Is this Legal?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Is this Legal?

Post by Rachael »

Can you design an image or logo with new wording / lettering but keeping in the same style as the original design which is covered by copyright? For example, changing the wording in Jurassic Park to something else but keeping the same font and style used in the original as well as changing the image above the wording but keeping within the original artwork style - is this breach of copyright, or is this a right of adaptation???
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Post by AndyJ »

This is a bit tricky where UK law is concerned. When you say image or logo, then copyright would also definitelty apply to the original, but your treatment of it, by changing the wording therein might be considered as parody, which the UK courts have failed to agree a common approach to, unlike the USA where parody is largely protected under the Fair Use rules. The EU has recognised the need to clarify the legislation on the subject but so far the UK has not done so.
So the test is: how much of the original copyright image remains in the adaptation? If it is substantial, then infringement is likely to have occurred.
The second factor concerns the derogatory treeatment of a copyright work. Section 80 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 provides protection against such treatment, but it is up to the courts to decide what constitutes 'derogatory'.
The third factor to consider is whether the logo has also been registered as a Trademark. You mentioned Jurassic Park. Most film companies are well aware of the spin-off marketing potential of their 'Brands' and so register certain features to prevent un-licensed products cashing in on the popularity of the film. Trademark law works in a different way to copyright law, and tends to focus more on any commercial implications of infringement.
If the thing which you wish to adapt only consists of normal everyday words and there isn't any special typeface being used, there may be no problem just parodying the actual words. For instance if you take the old BT catchphrase 'it's good to talk' which had no specific typographical charateristics, and you changed it to 'it's good to walk', although most people would understand the link, no infrimgement of either copyright or trademark would have taken place.
You mention the 'right to adaption'. I'm not quite sure what you are referring to. If you adapt a copyright work in a substantial way, then it is possible for you to claim coyright in the derived work but you need the permission of the original copyright owner to do this.
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