I really want that Design as an SVG file. What should I do?
Every other day, I find members in various Facebook Groups wanting to (re)create something that they saw somewhere, on the Internet, a television show, in Comics, or in Movies.
Tracing/recreating designs from “found” images is illegal, which means it is criminal by law.
Believe me if I tell you that
Any Legitimate Designer will NEVER recreate a found image or design for you.
Can't I just find it on Etsy then?
Don’t do it. Etsy has stores that have Disney or other copyrighted/trademarked designs with them, but they are all a scam. Disney is not on etsy and Disney rights cost a lifetime, none of the small businesses can afford them, They are all selling you traced images, which they aren’t licensed to sell, and they all will be shut down one by one in due course of time. Buying from them is contributing to the theft and risking yourself with infringement.
Oh then that secret group? That one has loads of files?
SVG File sharing is already banned by Facebook. All these secret groups are on radar, and are checked by Facebook all the time. Their admins as well as the group members are soon to fall in serious legal trouble. Take it from me, Designers have better reach to lawyers and are more informed than ever! You will see groups losing their traced files, illegally shared designs and pirated stuff overnight when Facebook takes control and/or Legal repercussions are faced by the admins and group members who participated in the activity.
What about that graphic I found on Google?
Well that graphic belongs to its creator. It isn’t yours until you purchase a license for an intended use and use it for that purpose alone.
Well if its put on Google, it sure means it is for us to use, or they would not "put" it there for free!
No, Google is just a search engine, it will show you everything which is up there, it does not mean it is for you to use. No one “puts” it there for you. The creators upload to their own websites, blogs, digital shops, and google just picks the images up from everywhere to show you. While it may associate no explicit copyright information with it in some cases, It DOES NOT mean it is in public domain.
In every case, the copyright always lies with the original creator.
It is not a Company/Character It is just a T-shirt design that I found on Pinterest!
Pinterest, again, is a search engine. That T-shirt is designed by someone, and is their art work. While we can take inspiration and do our own spin on text (if the text is not a trademarked word or phrase), replicating the design is not legal. Filed or not, the copyright remains with the original creator.
Aren't only filed copyrights valid?
That is not true. Copy-right: Only the creator has the right to copy. DMCA protects all designers and digital creators. There are various levels of licensing available for creators through creative commons to choose from. It is a good practice to include copyright information with your creations. But if you created it, it is yours. You get an automatic valid copyright.
It is my own Logo, Can that be traced?
Logos are designed by Branding Companies/Graphic designers who specialize in branding. They are made simple and memorable, keeping in mind that they might need to be embroidered or cut into decals. Ask your designer to give you the source file. A well designed logo only needs to be optimized for cutting ( like path unifying and layering ). You don’t ever need to trace it ( I can say this because I did branding for more than a decade )
So, Can't use that illustration that I found ( on Google )?
Nope! Until specifically CC0 licensed (which means it is free to be used personally or commercially) OR being given permission to use by the creator itself by contacting them, You are not entitled to use any of the found images. You can a reverse image search to find the original source of the image, which works in most cases.
BUT, I only want to do it for my friend/family?
There is something called fan art ( fan art can’t be sold ) If you are a big fan of something and you create something which glorifies-magnifies the art in some way, that isn’t illegal, it may even bring more people to become fans of the character/movie/tv series/comics. It is something that you create yourself being a fan.
In my understanding, fan art is an inspired art, which isn’t a trace.
Theft is theft, even if you steal and just give it to your friend.
So what should I do, if I want that design sooo bad?
Search for merchandise which is being sold by the company itself and purchase from them, that is the ONLY legal way of doing it. You want Moana? Search the Disney Store. You get the idea.
Is all tracing bad?
Not at all, we all learn to write, and draw by tracing lines and shapes. Learning is not bad, but replicating and selling is. Asking some else to trace a character for you is wrong. Tracing isn’t bad, Designers, artists, font designers, do trace their own sketches, drawings, letters to create Vector art, Font files and SVG files.
Does that mean I can't do a Mickey Party without spending a fortune?
You can! It comes under fan art. DO IT YOURSELF! Make that little one happy, but don’t pay scammers for it. Don’t ask someone else to trace for you. Don’t buy pirated files. Use your imagination Check Disney for awesome DIYs. Check the silhouetteschoolblog for great ideas. Use Pinterest for hacks. Check Nifty Buzzfeed to crack it. Put your craft machine to good use, and Enjoy sharing the photos of your finished craft work!
Two Oreos on a cupcake can resemble Mickey ears, something that simple can bring a big smile on someone’s face.
The Digital Age has come upon us so fast that we have to educate ourselves on the legal stuff related to it.
I have made mistakes myself when I started some years ago. But now I know better and I always want to be well informed and safe. What I have shared is what I have learnt in the years as a crafter-designer.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way a lawyer, and this is not Legal Advice. Please research and act at your own discretion.
Read up on Copyrights, Trademarks, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Creative commons, Public Domain, Fan Art, Reverse Image Search. Inspiration Vs Piracy
Oh Ruchira, why the long post?
I have been doing this over and over again. I want to help out and educate, but don’t want to Baby sit, Be the police, and sound repetitive, or hire a robot to do it for me every other day. So here it is for you, I will update it as and when required. If you still have any questions left, feel free to post them in the comments, I will update this post with the answers.
Let us set the compass right.