copying content from unsolicited emails
- March 4, 2006 @ 6:44pmbobocar says:Every week I recieve emails dealing with the same topic. Many of these emails contain artwork. I do not know who created this artwork . The individuals sending me the emails do not know who created the artwork. In most cases the email containing the artwork indicates that the artwork has been sent to many recipients. The artwork does not contain a copyright notice.
Has the creator of the artwork given everyone an implied license to use the artwork in any manner?
- March 4, 2006 @ 7:36pmRDavis says:John,
As far as I'm aware, no such implied license exists in relation to mass-distributed e-mails. Maybe there's something in the case law that would qualify that statement, but I'm personally not aware of it.
The artwork does not have to contain a copyright notice to be copyrighted, nor does it have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. The fact that it's fixed in a tangible medium (which includes electronic media like digital image files) is enough to make it copyrightable. If the people who sent you the email containing the artwork don't know who created it, you should be especially suspicious--it's possible they grabbed the image from some online source themselves without the owner's permission.
As far as your own use of the artwork goes, I think you'd have to assume the artwork is protected and so look at fair use; apply the four factors and see if your use might be covered. If your use has a commercial element then I (personally) would proceed with caution...
- March 4, 2006 @ 8:57pmRDavis says:Shortly after posting my first reply I thought of something in the case law that does address the issue of whether posting something online creates an implied license for others to use it without permission -- the Kelly v. Arriba Soft case from 2002. Kelly v. Arriba was also cited in a recent decision in a Nevada district court case regarding Google's use of cached content, in which the court found in favor of Google. See http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=15493&hed=Google+Free+to+Cache%3A+Court§or=Industries&subsector=InternetAndServices
Both the Kelly and the Nevada decisions said that posting content online implied a license for Web search engines to index or temporarily cache that content. However, the fact that search engines provide a public service was a critical factor in both cases, I believe, so unless your use of the images included in the emails was of a similar nature, I doubt they're of much relevance to your situation. And, of course, sending something out to specific recipients (whether singly or en masse) as e-mail might or might not be seen as being qualitatively different than posting it for all to see on the Web.
As far as I'm aware, no such implied license exists in relation to mass-distributed e-mails. Maybe there's something in the case law that would qualify that statement, but I'm personally not aware of it.[/quote]
Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.