Copyright also applies to the use of images, photographs, and artwork. Databases such as ArtStor provide access to licensed images for educational purposes without violating copyright. Other options for fair use, such as the Creative Commons license, are discussed in links below.
Can visual arts objects be copyrighted?
According to the Library of Congress, copyright is automatically secured upon creation of any tangible work, including digital or virtual materials. Registration of the work at the Library of Congress is not necessary, although there are advantages to registration (see the United States Copyright Office for more information).
Circular 40 provides instructions on how to register a work of art at the U.S. Copyright Office.
Can virtual art be copyrighted?
Circular 40 lists the art forms protected by copyright, which include "holograms, computer and laser artwork."
For creators of virtual art who wish to make their work available for mashups, re-mixing, sharing, and modifying, the Creative Commons license provides several levels of copyright from which to choose. Each of these requires that users of the work credit the creator as specified.
For more information
- Boston University Libraries—Finding Images on the Web
Offers advice and links to further information. Provides examples of permission statements and their limits for website image collections.
- University of Texas System–Office of General Counsel–Copyright and Image Management
Discusses copyright of images in terms of fair use, public domain, electronic collections, and making or copying slides.
- Library of Congress—Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply to Publication/Distribution of Images: Assessing the Risk of Using a P&P Image
Discusses the use of Prints & Photographs images from the Library of Congress collections. Serves as a good primer for understanding rights attached to digital images, even those in a public repository.
- Flickr—Creative Commons
Describes the variety of licenses attached to images found in Flickr.