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YouTube Question Is it a copyright violation to do art tutorials of brands/characters (i.e. Disney characters)?

JRocksPRT

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My channel is painted rock tutorials, and I consider myself more of a chronic doodler than an artist. ;) In the rock painting world, people love doing their favorite characters and brands (like Disney or comic characters, for example). I'm currently not monetized, but am trying to follow all the best practices and "rules" as if I am. Some my own favorite designs involve brands/characters and I think would be very well received, but I also don't want to shoot myself in the foot if it's a violation. Thanks in advance for your input! :)
 
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Damo’s Paintings

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Well, I’ve painted a variety of super cars, and made videos on them being painted and uploaded to my channel, no problems with anything here, so you should be fine to make tutorial videos and uploading them to your channel.

I’m not gonna get into all this stuff about copyright, just too much involved, however anyone is welcome to add their thoughts on this.
 

Beanie Draws

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I'm not a lawyer, but you should be able to draw brands and characters as long as you don't sell them after. Plenty of people draw Disney characters, but if you try to SELL those as prints or even as originals, the mouse will know.
I fall into an interesting category because I want to sell some of my prints, but I wouldn't be able to sell prints that are directly related to scenes from Jurassic films. I can sell related prints of dinosaurs as long as I don't mention Jurassic Park as a brand.

The easy answer however is, if you're not selling them, go for it :)

Not entirely sure if you're allowed to monetize said videos as that's technically making a profit from characters and brands, so on the monetization side I'm not sure.
 

Spanglish | Team TB

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Actually there's a YouTuber Lawyer called Ian Corzine who did a livestream titled Is FAN ART Legal? Your Social Media Lawyer LIVE!!! where he talks about this very subject. I haven't watched it so can't give any opinions on this but I would suggest checking him out. he has some amazing videos about all kinds of legal issues with content creation on YouTube.
 

blackbeltsecrets

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Hey @JRocksPRT ! I'm an IP lawyer based in the UK but small disclaimer: 1) this view is mine and not TubeBuddy's; and 2) always seek formal advice before relying on all other views/materials.

With that done, here goes! Most copying of copyrighted work, however artistic, will likely be considered a 'derivative work' and will amount to infringement. However, there is a "fair use" / "fair dealing" exception which has several requirements but the main one being that your work must amount to "transformative" use of the copyrighted work. This is the case with the likes of CinemaSins and Screen Junkies.

@Beanie Draws has a good point too in that commercial use of the material can make a big difference to what a court would think. Generally, however, if the primary function/purpose of YOUR material is fundamentally different from the original and cannot be a substitute, you are more likely to be ok.

As it happens, I've literally JUST run into this issue on one of my channels so have a watch of this and it will explain all of this in a lot of detail!

View: https://youtu.be/iiISz9qBkkQ


Good luck!
Dan
 

Beanie Draws

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Interesting coincidence that I just recently had an artwork taken down from TeeSpring for "infringing on IP"

I drew a mashup of Jurassic World's Indoraptor, with Marvels Venom. I called my mashup "Indovenom"

This leads me to believe that you can't even create your own symbiot hybrid invention.

The interesting thing there is the Indoraptor is actually an original "character" , so unlike a tyrannosaurus rex, an "original character" animal CAN be considered intellectual property (which is why all the Jurassic Park series dinosaurs are so inaccurate. Anyone can print a drawing of a Dilophosaurus without a frill because there's no scientific evidence that Dilophosaurus had a frill, but because Jurassic Park's had a frill, it's instantly identifiable as Universal Studio's Jurassic Park IP based on the frill.

And I don't believe that "venom" EVER merged with a dinosaur, but simply making my own version of "venom" I guess was enough for TeeSpring to consider it a violation of IP (even though they had a Kiss/Cat mashup they named "Hiss" and a cat/jaws mashup they named "paws")

So it's always a tough tricky one in terms of making your own versions to sell.
 

blackbeltsecrets

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Interesting coincidence that I just recently had an artwork taken down from TeeSpring for "infringing on IP"

I drew a mashup of Jurassic World's Indoraptor, with Marvels Venom. I called my mashup "Indovenom"

This leads me to believe that you can't even create your own symbiot hybrid invention.
That's a shame - in my view, by creating a mashup/hybrid you are creating something new that cannot reasonably be confused with the original. It is an objective test (reasonable third person) and I cannot see how someone would confuse a mashup with the original.

Sometimes, a firmly-worded letter will put things straight but I'm just waiting to see what YouTube do with my BBC copyright claim.

It's a little ironic that the BBC pushed for the law to change in the UK for fair dealing to apply to film and sound and then were one of the first to argue about its scope!

PS I've just sent your channel to my son, he absolutely loves drawing dinosaurs :D
 

Damo’s Paintings

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Interesting coincidence that I just recently had an artwork taken down from TeeSpring for "infringing on IP"

I drew a mashup of Jurassic World's Indoraptor, with Marvels Venom. I called my mashup "Indovenom"

This leads me to believe that you can't even create your own symbiot hybrid invention.

The interesting thing there is the Indoraptor is actually an original "character" , so unlike a tyrannosaurus rex, an "original character" animal CAN be considered intellectual property (which is why all the Jurassic Park series dinosaurs are so inaccurate. Anyone can print a drawing of a Dilophosaurus without a frill because there's no scientific evidence that Dilophosaurus had a frill, but because Jurassic Park's had a frill, it's instantly identifiable as Universal Studio's Jurassic Park IP based on the frill.

And I don't believe that "venom" EVER merged with a dinosaur, but simply making my own version of "venom" I guess was enough for TeeSpring to consider it a violation of IP (even though they had a Kiss/Cat mashup they named "Hiss" and a cat/jaws mashup they named "paws")

So it's always a tough tricky one in terms of making your own versions to sell.
I had a very similar problem with Red Bubble, my landscapes were 100% fine as they were my own works, but anything automotive was removed (I wasn’t clued up on IP until that), as I’m sure BMW or McLaren or any auto maker wouldn’t want me profiting off their designs, which I can say I agree with, hmmm but I could design my own cool supercar, but I’d probably still have some dramas :confused:
 

Beanie Draws

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I had a very similar problem with Red Bubble, my landscapes were 100% fine as they were my own works, but anything automotive was removed (I wasn’t clued up on IP until that), as I’m sure BMW or McLaren or any auto maker wouldn’t want me profiting off their designs, which I can say I agree with, hmmm but I could design my own cool supercar, but I’d probably still have some dramas :confused:
That's really interesting, but does make sense. I wonder if you could quickly photoshop out the badges, as I assume you had the badges on the car too. This is why GTAV name their cars differantly, the SHAPE and design of the cars are more or less the same, but they changed the name and logo on the cars and it seems that's how they got past copyright issues. So in that regard my guess would be on the branding and naming more so than the design of the car it'self. I see lots of artists doing illustrations of old muscle cars and sports cars and all the branding has been taken off and they seem to be ok. But just because they "seem" to be ok doesn't mean they actually are.

I guess the same would be the same for illustrating celebrity likenesses. Not only do you have the celebrity likeness to contend with, but also the copyright of the photographer. I often see people selling drawings of celebrities and I guess that would fall under a gray area as well.

You can TEACH it, you can show it... but can you sell it, is the question.

And even more broadly of a question... would having ads and monetisation classify as "selling" and "profit" enough to be an IP issue. Right now, no probably not, but it wouldn't surprise me if it could become an issue in the next years.
 

Damo’s Paintings

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That's really interesting, but does make sense. I wonder if you could quickly photoshop out the badges, as I assume you had the badges on the car too. This is why GTAV name their cars differantly, the SHAPE and design of the cars are more or less the same, but they changed the name and logo on the cars and it seems that's how they got past copyright issues. So in that regard my guess would be on the branding and naming more so than the design of the car it'self. I see lots of artists doing illustrations of old muscle cars and sports cars and all the branding has been taken off and they seem to be ok. But just because they "seem" to be ok doesn't mean they actually are.

I guess the same would be the same for illustrating celebrity likenesses. Not only do you have the celebrity likeness to contend with, but also the copyright of the photographer. I often see people selling drawings of celebrities and I guess that would fall under a gray area as well.

You can TEACH it, you can show it... but can you sell it, is the question.

And even more broadly of a question... would having ads and monetisation classify as "selling" and "profit" enough to be an IP issue. Right now, no probably not, but it wouldn't surprise me if it could become an issue in the next years.
In some of my latest automotive paintings I actually left the badge off, but still got notified that it still violates IP, so that tells me that it’ll be more than the badge, probably things like headlight design, and distinctive shapes, it’s all good though, I’d rather play it safe.