Keepin' it real.
Ink Lounge Image Usage Rights Policy
This policy is based on nearly 30 years of graphic design experience, along with many hours of research to provide you some links to articles that have assisted me in shaping my policy. Please don’t hesitate to inquire on a specific project, as I do understand there are some grey areas and people do have various interpretations when creating art. PLEASE NOTE: If you are coming in to print during Open Studio or I am commercially printing a project for you, I may need to confirm you have the rights to use the image you/I am printing.
• I'm always happy to discuss, but it is my studio policy.
• You don't have to agree, but you do have to abide.
The Quick Version
In a simplified explanation: You are not allowed to take another artists image (photo, illustration, design, painting, etc.) and make a screen print from it unless you have the permission or license from the original artist. Examples include logos from your favorite sports teams, illustrations you find on Etsy, photos from the internet, etc. We prefer to start people out with a fairly good understanding of image usage and hope you don’t feel discouraged by all the legal stuff below.
Derivative Art • Usually Not Acceptable
This is the practice of taking another persons image and altering it, where the new artist considers it something new, therefore incorrectly assuming they are within their rights to use. Many people are incorrectly taught that if you change an image 3 times or alter it 30%, then this is acceptable. Please be aware that using someone else’s image is not acceptable under copyright law and you need permission from the original artist to use it in your own artwork. Please note that there are websites that do provide copyright free images (purchase may be necessary) or images that are in the public domain which are both fine to use. Please be sure to check the fine print when purchasing stock images or using public domain images as they may have restrictions on resale.
Fan Art • Might be Acceptable
This is the practice of taking a comic book character, movie star, musician, etc. and creating something new - but the viewer would still recognize the person/character. The legality of it comes down to a few things including “distribution” and “transformation.”
Copyrighted Characters: The original character is copyrighted and technically you are only allowed to create items to give away. Celebrities: As long as you are not depicting them as a copyrighted character they portray in movie/television, and the work can be considered transformative (meaning you are not merely duplicating a photograph where the photographer has the rights) then you may be within what is considered legal.
For example if you created a new illustration of Keanu Reeves as himself, you are within your rights. But if you depict him as Neo from the Matrix then you are infringing on the copyright that Warner Brothers has on the character. Or if you used some photos of Batman from the internet as a resource and created a new illustration to print a t-shirt to give a friend for their birthday, you’re also within your right as a fan to distribute as a gift since no profit was gained from the creation. But if you were to produce to sell, this is considered copyright infringement as you profiting from someone else’s brand.
We do understand there are many companies that do allow people to create and sell fan art, so we are lenient with this practice (plus we understand as it’s fun!). So our policy is that if you create something unique that is considered transformative, and you are printing no more than 50 prints – we will allow you to print fan art. Please note that for those of you working digitally, merely live tracing or converting an image to a halftone is not considered transformative. Our best advice: sharpen your pencil and get to work.
Sports Stars: this can be a bit tricky as where you may be within legal rights portraying an actual person (as long as you aren’t using a copyrighted photograph) you may be infringing on the team’s brand they play for. As long as the work is transformative (and you do not include the team name/logo) then you should be within acceptable limits and safe to print.
Unofficial Concert Posters • Not Acceptable
An unofficial gig poster is usually created to profit off a bands brand that is often sold outside the music venue in parking lots. This is a common practice and enforced at various levels depending on the venue and the band feelings on it. Some bands don’t care and view it as fan art as long as the artist is not infringing on the band’s brand.
For example: using the full band name, logo, images, etc. on the poster would infringe on copyright law. We disagree with these types of posters as we, and many other designers we know, have put in time creating relationships with bands and/or the venues. So for someone to profit in the parking lot – we feel devalues the business we’re in. We also do not want to be in the business of knowing which venues and bands allow and which do not. So our policy is to not allow any unofficial posters to be printed at the studio, commercially or during open studio, unless you have permission from both the band and venue. Proof is required, no exceptions.
Ink Lounge values creativity and understands that we are all inspired by a great many things and will continue to encourage everyone to express their creativity. But at the same time I do need to uphold rights for all artists. I realize this may conflict with some folks' interpretations of copyright law, and where I am always up for a conversation, I ultimately have the right to create and enforce this policy. I do not wish to be difficult on this – but I do feel it is our obligation as a graphic designer, screen printer, and instructor – to educate people in best practices and uphold what I believe to be fair for all.
Image libraries with free images: