Filed under: "Whitestone Design Werks", Design
Just came across this article by Steven Heller on AIGA’s site: Rights, Wrongs and the Law: An Interview with Frank Martinez, Esq. for those coming to this site searching for more information of copyright law. While this doesn’t pertain per se to the issue of smaller schools “borrowing” larger school’s better designed and more familiar mascot artwork, it does help to understand the whole concept of what is appropriate to appropriate when the material in question is copyrighted.
The article addresses the increasing challenges that design scholars and historians are having trying to put together books on the history of design when they have to obtain usage rights but are facing increased fees for those rights. If the budget is not there, how will design history be sufficiently documented when they can’t even show what they are writing about.
In a nutshell:
The doctrine of fair use is alive and well. Generally speaking, a use of a copyrighted work will be deemed a fair use when the benefit to the public outweighs the private right of the author or copyright owner. However, it is important to remember that fair use is an exception or defense to the protections embodied in copyright law; fair use is not a right or an absolute shield that creates a general immunization against copyright suitupon invocation by a scholar. The fair use guidelines are arbitrary, they have gained what definition they possess by reason of litigation and they are not embodied in the copyright statute
I encourage you to check out the whole article.