avoiding plagerism

by Alex Birrell
(Rosyth Scotland)

Question: I draw cartoons from a variety of books in my spare time and have given a bit of thought to writing an adventure story about some of those cartoon characters. Would re-drawing them by hand create a problem for me, and would this be considered to be plagiarizing someone else's work? Alex Birrell


Answer: As always: I am not a lawyer, and you should probably consult one before you try to publish such a project.

However, I believe the answer is "yes," this would be a copyright violation. You would be attempting to profit from someone else's creation, and thus trespassing on their rights.

Bear in mind that artwork, particularly images of established characters, can be trademarked as well as copyrighted. So not only would copying a particular drawing of a character be prohibited, but so would creating a completely new drawing of that character.

The only artwork you can safely copy or imitate is the artwork of long-dead artists that has passed into public domain.

If you just want to do some drawings for fun or to give to friends, you may not have any problems. But don't try to sell plagiarized art or publish (mass produce) it.

The best thing to do is create your own characters, because then you will own them. Now that you've had some practise imitating the work of other artists, why not give it a try?

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