RE: RARA-AVIS: paperbacks to poster

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 24 Jul 2010

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    The copyright holders of Twilight are being especially protective: Mark

    > To:
    > From:
    > Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2010 13:01:27 +0000
    > Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: paperbacks to poster
    > > I get a get a kick out of publishers, some on this very list,
    > > in fact, who claim a copyright to their covers. They obviously
    > > didn't check with their lawyers.
    > >
    > > Jeff
    > Not sure whether I'm one of the "some on this very list, in fact" you
    > meant, but I should be if I'm not.
    > Check with *your* lawyer: when a painter paints a painting or a
    > photographer takes a photo, that work is protected by copyright just as
    > much as it is when a writer writes a novel. Now, the protections of
    > copyright are not absolute; a copyright holder can't prevent what's
    > called "Fair Use," for example, and there's some disagreement about
    > where the edges of "Fair Use" fall (as there is about most things in the
    > law). But illustrating a book review with a picture of the book being
    > reviewed is pretty clearly fair use (even if the review is a negative
    > one), as is illustrating an article about an author with images of that
    > author's books, and these are just two examples. If you make an iconic
    > cover that becomes famous and Mad magazine or National Lampoon creates
    > an imitation that looks almost identical but with some comical twists,
    > that's parody and is protected under Fair Use.
    > But there are other examples that would pretty clearly not be Fair Use.
    > If, for instance, I buy only North American paperback rights to a given
    > book and the author retains hardcover and e-book and foreign language
    > rights, and I accordingly only buy the right to use the cover painter's
    > work on North American paperback editions, if the author subsequently
    > sells hardcover or e-book or foreign language rights to other
    > publishers, those other publishers can't reproduce the artist's work on
    > the covers of their editions. The artist has retained those rights and
    > if the publishers want them they have to contact the artist (and, unless
    > the artist is a very nice guy, pay him some money).
    > If an apparel company decided that they like my covers and created a
    > line of clothing that displayed my covers on the front of shirts or the
    > backs of hoodies or whatever, I could sue them. Yes, you see people
    > doing this with *vintage* covers, but that's either on the theory that
    > those covers have fallen out of or were never in copyright (because
    > copyright law was different back in the 1930s and 40s than it is today)
    > or on the theory that the owners of those copyrights are long dead or
    > long out of business and will never take action against a pissant little
    > company even if they might have the legal right to do so.
    > What about a library displaying blow-ups of the covers of books they
    > want to highlight to readers? I don't know; that feels okay to me at a
    > gut level, but you don't see a JD on my wall and a lawyer might have a
    > different opinion. Two laywers might have different opinions from each
    > other. But it's definitely not a cut-and-dried "there are no copyrights
    > covering book covers, you idiot" case.
    > Charles
    > P.S. Kinkos has made blow-ups of paperback covers for me more than once
    > without complaining. Yes, sometimes it was of my own books, but they
    > didn't ask whether they were my books, so there was no way they could
    > have known that. I suspect whether they object or not depends on which
    > Kinkos you visit and which clerk you get.
    > --- In, "Jeff Vorzimmer" <jvorzimmer@...>
    > wrote:
    > >
    > > Book covers? Book covers are _not_ copyrightable. Period.
    > >
    > > Even if a book cover has a logo on it, you can argue fair use, if you
    > are reproducing an entire cover of which the logo is simply a part.
    > >
    > > I get a get a kick out of publishers, some on this very list, in fact,
    > who claim a copyright to their covers. They obviously didn't check with
    > their lawyers.
    > >
    > > Jeff
    > >
    > > > Actually, you may find that many printing stores -- especially the
    > larger
    > > > chains like Kinkos, et al, will not do copies or enlargements of
    > book covers
    > > > (hardcover or paperback) because of fears of copyright
    > infringements.
    > > > Because their policy is a blanket one, it doesn't matter if it's
    > today's
    > > > bestseller or a book from decades ago...they simply won't do it.
    > >
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