Could a collage infringe copyright?

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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Could a collage infringe copyright?

Post by zelda »

Hello everyone,

I am working on a web design project, for which I have created a collage made from a pile of various newspapers, which I have photographed and am planning to use on this website. I was just wondering whether my work can fall into a copyright infringement as it is possible to see someone else’s photograph within my photograph, such as an image published in the newspaper itself. While it is clearly my own work, I am wondering if any newspaper or an owner of that image can complain and claim an infringement. Any reply will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.
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Post by AndyJ »

Yes your collage would probably be classed as a derivitive work, and so technically you need the permission of the individual copyright owners whose work you incorporate. That would include the newspaper text, not just the images, as a typographical layout is also subject to copyright. A lot depends on the degree to which the items are incidental to your image. For example if you assembled a huge picture using very small newspaper images to create different tones or hues, such that the individual pieces were barely recognisable, this might not be infringement, and even if it was, the original owner might not wish to pursue the matter. On the other hand, if you substantially base your collage on just one or two images then you probably wouldn't be able to call it incidental inclusion.
If you can find them, try asking the copyright owners for permission to use their images in your collage. You may need to explain how you want to use them and if you intend to make money from the collage (as opposed to the website it is hosted on) or if it is purely for your own artistic purposes. You should also be aware that using the copyright work of others in a defamatory way is also an infringement of their moral rights and may be actionable.
On the positive side, if you do obtain permission to include the work of others in your collage, then you will have the copyright in your derived artistic work, with all that that implies.
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