Copyrights, Trademarks, Rights of Privacy/Publicity

This page is only a guide. It offers some general rules of thumb to help steer clear of violating another person’s rights when creating your original design for submission in the Young Artist’s Contest.  

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection prohibiting others from copying one’s creative work without permission. A copyright is a property right. Copyright law grants the creator of an original work the exclusive rights for its use and distribution.

Can I use elements from someone else’s artwork to create my own?

Sometimes. If your design is inspired by existing artwork by someone else but your design sufficiently deviates from the inspiration artwork then it may be considered original; if not, then it would be considered a derivative work and your use would violate the copyright owner’s rights.  EXAMPLE:  If you are inspired by a photograph and create a drawing that looks just like the photograph, your drawing is not original and would violate the rights the copyright owner has in the photograph (changing the medium alone does not create an original work). There is no precise formula for what is considered an “original” work.  If you have any doubt about whether a submission is original, choose not to submit that work.  

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from another. EXAMPLE:  Any rendition of a Disney princess recognizable as such would be a trademark of Disney and not usable in any submission. Also, any rendition of Wonder Woman identifiable as Wonder Woman or her W symbol is owned by DC Comics and therefore not usable in any submission.

What is a right to privacy or publicity?

While copyright and trademarks protect property rights described above, privacy and publicity rights protect the interest of people who are subjects in those works. Privacy rights protect a person’s name, likeness or image from being used publicly without their consent. Publicity rights protect a person’s name, likeness or image from being commercially exploited without consent/compensation. EXAMPLE:  Using your favorite singer’s name or image -- even if it’s a sketch done by you and is original -- would not be usable in a submission because the singer has a right to compensation for use of her name, likeness or image in a commercial venture (e.g., sale of t-shirts).