Do I own copyright in a drawing of a photo?

I have drawn a portrait in pencil of a man from a picture of the man I found on the Internet. Do I own the copyrights to sell my drawing?

Anonymous on June 13, 2012

This is called a “derivative work.” You own the copyright in your drawing, but there is also a copyright of the original picture that someone else owns. This is very similar to the case with the famous Barack Obama “Hope” poster where artist Shepard Fairey had the copyright to his artwork but the Associated Press owned the copyright to the original photo on which the poster was based. As with the Hope poster, legally you need to get the permission of the original artist before you can make money from your drawing.

derivative work, Internet photos


Reply by Jennifer

July 22, 2013

No one really knows. The shepard Fairey case, as sited numerous times in this matter, was meant to be the case that decided this factor. It was settled and dropped. There are a few other cases right now in court that are meant to be the big time deciding factor of this. Wait and see.

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