February 22nd, 2012

  • myenia

Copyright Clarification

This is more of an advice post, since this community seems to have a wealth of copyright knowledge.

Years ago, I did an image for a forum I used to visit, which ended up being used on their front page. Recently, I found out that it was used without proper credit or permission in a magazine (without their knowledge until it was in print). Upon finding this out, and looking back to the forum, I found posts stating that the situation was being handled, though 4 days had passed and nobody had bothered contacting me.

My understanding is that, since the image was done free of cost, without prompting or organization, and without contract, the copyright is fully and completely mine. I of course posted the image on the forum stating that it was for their use on the front page. While it was years ago and I cannot clarify details (login no longer works), I know that nothing was legally or formally worked out, it was simply made as a gift for usage on the forum. If I understand copyright laws correctly, I retain my full copyright in doing so, while extending non-exclusive usage to the forum for the specified intent only. While they call this image their "logo" and it has the forum's initials in the background, I assume that without a contract specifying otherwise, rights stay with me and they do not "own" this image in any way.

If the above is true, this means that if a magazine printed my image, nobody should be"handling" it but me. Not that I mind their involvement... I understand that it may have some emotional significance to them, and for me, its old art that I care little about. What I do care about is that I feel I'm constantly battling people ignorant of copyright laws, assuming they own things that I own. I feel like a selfish jerk for having to explain this to them, but I also feel like I've had two parties step on my toes and try to claim my copyright, instead of just the one, which is incredibly frustrating.

So, are there any legal flaw in the above?