drawing cartoons

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  • Can someone draw disney and other characters on canvases and give them away? I don't want any profit from them.
  • Jully
    Any time you fool with a company like Disney you run the risk of having a problem. I don't believe drawing the characters is the problem since I have seen "how to draw..." books for cartoon characters. The problem comes in when others get invovled (in this case those to whom you give the drawings). If that person(s) asks for a picture of that character, the copyright/trademark holder can argue that you are depriving them of revenue. Other arguements against this are that you are drawing the entire character (whole work) and that the character is a creative idea not a factual one.

    While my answer should not be considered legal advice, I would not proceed with this if I were you.

    I welcome any thoughts on this issue (pro or con) that I haven't considered.
  • The exclusive rights granted under copyright include the right to make copies of a work and the right to distribute those copies to the public. I don't believe the law states what exactly constitutes distribution "to the public," but it does define what public means when it comes to public performances (another of the copyright owner's exclusive rights): "a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances" (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#101).

    So -- and this is stating the obvious, so forgive me -- if a person draws a Disney character and gives it to a family member or social acquaintance, this is not an infringement of the copyright owner's exclusive rights. But if the person does this systematically and gives the drawings away to more than a reasonable circle of family and friends, then I might urge caution, even if no profit is involved -- esp. with Disney characters. Fair use is an affirmative defense to a claim of copyright infringement, which means that if someone with deep pockets wants to sue you, the burden is on you to explain why your use isn't infringing and to pay the lawyer who helps you make that argument in the meantime. (And, btw, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the folks at Disney or many other entertainment companies disagreed with the "obvious" interpretation that I stated at the beginning of this paragraph.)

    Also, FWIW, I suspect the use of characters in those "How to Draw" books is licensed from the copyright/trademark owners.

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