Fan art is a huge part of the online community. People love to create artwork and designs based on their favorite TV shows, movies, and brands. But sometimes, fan art can cross the line into copyright infringement territory. This article will explore when fan art is legal and when it isn’t. So read on to learn more!
Is Fan Art Copyright Infringement?
Generally speaking, copyright law protects original works of authorship, such as novels, paintings, and songs. When someone creates a work based on another copyrighted work, it is considered a “derivative work.” Derivative works are subject to the same copyright laws as the original work.
However, there is an exception for fan art that is created for non-commercial purposes. This is often referred to as the “fair use” exception. Fair use allows for the limited use of copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism, commentary, or parody.
For fan art to fall under the fair use exception, it must meet all four of the following criteria:
- It must be transformative, meaning it adds something new and different to the original work.
- It can’t be used for commercial purposes.
- It must not negatively impact the market for the original work.
- And finally, it must be created for a limited and non-exclusive audience.
So, what does this all mean for fan art? Let’s take a closer look at each of the four factors.
The first factor, transformative use, is probably the most important one. To be considered transformative, fan art must add something new and different to the original work. For example, a painting of Harry Potter in an alternative universe where he’s a vampire would be considered transformative.
The second factor, commercial use, is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re selling your fan art or using it to promote a product, then it’s not considered fair use. However, if you’re giving away your fan art for free or displaying it on a personal website, then it’s more likely to be considered fair use.
Negative Impact on the Market
The third factor, the negative impact on the market, is a bit more complicated. To determine whether fan art has a negative impact on the market for the original work, courts will look at whether the fan art is a replacement for the original work. For example, if someone created a Harry Potter fan fiction novel and sold it in bookstores, it would likely have a negative impact on the market for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. However, if someone created a painting of Harry Potter and displayed it on their personal website, that would not have a negative impact on the market for J.K. Rowling’s novels.
Limited and Non-Exclusive Audience
The fourth and final factor, limited and non-exclusive audience, is fairly self-explanatory. If a small group only sees your fan art of people, it’s more likely to be considered fair use. However, if your fan art is widely distributed or seen by many people, it’s less likely to be considered fair use.
If you need any help with your fan art, or if you have any questions about copyright law, contact ogcsolutions.com. We offer a wide range of services, including copyright registration, trademark registration, and more. We’re here to help you protect your work!