Fan Art and Copyright Law

The second draft of the Elijah and Crumpet kids book Motivate Man is finished and those guys are looking over it with a fine tooth comb before committing it to print. While this has been going on, I’ve been updating the cover of the book, opting for the hand written font look. As well as adding some extra colour and interest with the hills landscape in the dream bubble.

I’ve also been looking at other revenue streams as you saw with the opening of my shop in the last post. And with the idea of creating art for purchase it raised a regular question that I often have bouncing around in my head. It’s the question of Fan Art and where the law falls in regard to copyright. 

I even conducted a poll on Twitter because I felt a bit confused by the whole thing. I totally understand the attraction to creating fan art. When you love other art forms you want to pay homage, and make reference to your influences and the creative work you love. It’s also a great way to gain exposure for your work. Because people probably aren’t searching for your originals, they are most likely searching for Baby Yoda & Spongebob.

Twitter Poll:

0% Don’t post fan art

75% posting fan art online is ok

25% selling fan art is ok

So it seems the general consensus is that, it’s ok to create fan art on your social media channels to attract those extra eyeballs to your style of art. It’s just not ok to sell that art, which is hard if people are seeing it and they love what you do. They might even want it on a T-Shirt, and that’s when things start to get tricky. I’ve even noticed some very large artists selling fan art, which has added to my confusion. 

I got in contact with social media lawyer Ian Corzine and he said ‘Fan Art  is technically a copyright violation. Most prudent copyright holders don’t sue because it is actually in their interest to propagate the brand’

So it is a copyright violation, but most copyright holders probably won’t sue you because it’s free promotion. But basically you are relying on luck and goodwill that you won’t get sued. I have heard from artists who have been asked to take down work they have had for sale, but so far don’t know anyone who has been sued.

The latest version of the cover for Elijah & Crumpet’s Motivate Man

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