"I found a great graphic and I read the artists terms. They asked that no alterations be made and that a credit link be placed on the pages. I was carefull not to change the graphic and added a pretty frame and made it into a background. I was so proud of it. Then the artist contacted me an accused me of altering it and told me that this derivative work was an infringement of their copyright."

Lets start off with what Derivative works are.

something derived.
to take, receive, or obtain especially from a specified source.
So if you take any part of a graphic, writing, or music composition and change it or make something else out of it, you have made a derivitive work.
You couldn't walk into an art gallery and start carving a new face on a sculpture to make it look better. Most of us would never dream of doing such a thing; but alot of people do it everyday on the internet.

So how do you keep from making an error and how do you know.

  • If you open a graphic in any paint program and change even one pixel of color or save it in a different format (ie jpg to gif); then you have made a derivative.

  • If you take one graphic and incorporate pieces of it into your own creation than you have made a derivative.

  • If you change the color, perspective or size (even using html values to change the size) then you have created a derivative.

  • If you take a background graphic and use it for a card, wallpaper, or any other use not originally intended then you have made a derivative.

  • When you compress a graphic it takes pixels of color out. This makes them load faster but reduces the quality and is also a derivative. Another thing to think about is that this is an injustice to the artist. They try to make their best and compressing their work makes it into something they would be ashamed to be associated with.

Silver Rainbows Poetry Silverhawk's Graphics Nursing
Jewelry HTML help files Banners Desert Medicine
Bear claws Coin bottle Turquoise Carving Carved Wolf
Free page Earrings Bear Tooth Lion Claws
Flying Eagle Bear Fetish Shark's Tooth Elk Buckle

Linda Gruber of Novel Art envisioned and created the idea and the outline structure of this copyright quest. We thank Linda for being gracious enough to allow us to use it and for her wonderful efforts to educate webmasters about intellecutal property issues. If you are interested in starting a similiar quest please contact her at linda@novelart.com