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Drawing a picture tagged with Creative Common Rights and drawing a picture with a company name.

Forest City, NC |

I have a question about drawing a picture tagged with Creative Common rights. I wish to create a drawing as art from a photo with Creative Common rights asking for attribution with the intent to make prints and sell. How can a drawing be attributed? Stating the source on the drawing would not be acceptable. Also, I wish to draw a train with the company name on the side with the intent to make prints and sell. Can I create a drawing as art that includes a company name with the intent to make prints and sell without permission from the company? Thank you.

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Attorney answers 3


You say you want to operate inner a Creative Commons license but that attribution is unacceptable to you. You have a problem as attribution is required for all types of CC licenses. i guess you won't be legally using CC if it's unacceptable.

Yes you can make incidental background use of a train company name in a picture of a train, provided you don't imply sponsorship, license or other false association with the train company or don't defame the name enough to draw fire.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


Id you don't want to use the Creative Commons licensed work, then you have the option of not using that work and drawing your own original picture which is not based on anyone else's work.

As long as your work is original, and not "substantially similar" to an existing work, then you wouldn't be infringing anyone's copyright.

As for using a company's trademark on a creative work, that's usually ok. Please see the link below to the Univ. of Alabama v. Moore case, from the 11th Cir., which does not include N.C. but is probably still applicable to your type of use. If you're professionally prodjucing art, you need your own IP lawyer anyway to look into use.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


You want to draw a picture of a photograph but do not want to comply with the photographer's [very reasonable] requirement that you give him credit for the photograph ON YOUR DRAWING. If you don't want to do the deal then don't do the deal. But that's the deal. If you want to change the deal then contact the photographer.

As for selling copies of a drawing that shows a train company's name on a train you'll have to discuss that with your own intellectual property attorney. Determining whether the use of a trademark [like the train company's name] on a piece of art is lawful or not depends very heavily on the specific facts in play -- including whether the drawing is really "art," the prominence of the display of the mark, the content of the drawing, the affect [if any] on the mark owner, and other factors.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

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