Image Copyright Question

Hey ForgeMakers!

Quick question around getting designs and copywrights - let’s say I pickup a book of black and white drawings from my favorite artists and want to engrave the design on a nice piece of cedar and sell it at my local Saturday market.

If this is out of a published book with an author subscribed, what do I need to do to use the image?

  • ask permission?
  • credit the author?
  • not use it?

I definitely do NOT want to break copywright laws and think this might come up with other GlowForgers.

Anyone have thoughts on this?


If you sell an artist’s image on a product to sell it infringes the copyright unless you receive permission from the artist. If for personal use then it does not


100% this.
My wife nearly had a heart-attack when she read the original question.

This is something I would do two things with - especially considering how litigious society has become: 1 ask the artist and get it IN WRITING or 2 avoid any thought of it. There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration but never a good idea to copy someones intellectual property. And if you think modifying it is not always a assurance of winning a court battle if someone is offended by your actions. Just ask Robin Thicke when it appeared he blurred some lines.
Now that said, I am taking inspiration all the time and it does influence my art. And lets say I want to use a photograph to base a design off of. I will only use parts of the photograph and obscure it in such a way that (I hope) is not recognizable to the photographer - not in a deceptive way - only in a way that allows my creative vision to see the said object. Like a tree I like - I may copy it from a photo but it is not an exact copy. I may move or remove a branch and or change the color or just use the silhouette of the image. :wink:

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Right, that makes sense. If I burned an Iron Man image onto a cell phone case and sold 1000 Marvel wouldn’t approve…

Sorry - I promise I won’t sneak into your home and steal your art babies whilst you sleep! :stuck_out_tongue:


Hmmm… so let’s say I want to burn a farm and landscape design on a piece of wood. If I found the perfect line drawing of a cow in an artists book but did the rest of the design myself, would I need to get permission to use the cow? Even if it’s a detail of the larger art.

I hope I’m not coming off precocious - I REALLY JUST WANT TO RESPECT ARTISTS AND THE LAW. I just know though that I will find an image online that is not “free to use” and want to add it to a design. Best to try and get this figured out now while I’m starting to archive images!

I am no copyright lawyer so please remember that the advice you get from me is totally worthless. LOL. Maybe you could modify the cow in some way? A great place to get tons of images is I have had an account with them for years and found that most of the artists and photographers there really enjoy how their works are used.

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There’s a grey area that allows derivative works that means if you change it just enough that is obvious that the artist did not make the work and it’s orginal then you are okay. The issue is that it’s so vague that you need a copyright lawyer to interpret that. In tour case if the cow is the only thing is copied it might be okay but if you going to make the whole scence anyway might as well draw the cow too. When not sure, it’s easier to just ask or get it from a site that artists wants you to use their work like you suggest

Awesome - thanks! I’ll make sure and reference you by name in copyright court. I kid, I kid…

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Ha ha… no my wife is a Lawyer!

[quote=“matthewgillikin, post:7, topic:593”]
If I found the perfect line drawing of a cow in an artists book but did the rest of the design myself, would I need to get permission to use the cow? Even if it’s a detail of the larger art.[/quote]

IMHO yes.
I am a diving photographer, some of my photos have been printed, i dont make much money out of what is really a hobby but enough so that if my images were used without payment i would notice the difference. If you were to publish a book about coral, cut out the fish from my photo and use the coral in the background you would certainly be facing problems in court.

On the other hand if i put up a design on GF Share (or whatever they will call it) and it is $1. You pay $1 for it but then substantially change it then you could get away with resale etc. For instance this is the way some people who are on this board can make buildings for the Warhammer40k game (seriously guys, Learn Advanced Squad Leader it is a far better system). If they tried to SELL those designs though i can imagine they would be in all sorts of trouble!

This is all from me, wife is out so i did not ask her (and if she wrote an answer it would be ~12 pages long anyway :sleeping:)


HAHAHA! Let’s not wake the “sleeping litigious wife”!

This is all double good info. I think I will err on the side of caution as best as I can. If there is an image I want to use, I’ll reach out to the creator and if they say no, I’ll just steer clear… I’m a knife maker and hoping to use the GF for not only etching but crafting of other favors to sell at my local Saturday market here in Boise.

Is there a thread/topic about selling GF crafted board games? This is something I’m definitely interested in - I see them on Etsy all the time but was unsure about the legalities of those as well.

How do BGs fit in this topic?

(*also, ASL FTW!!! Can you IMAGINE all the units done in beautifully etched wood!?!?!)

That is how i found out about the GF through an ASL group! I was imagining cutting the boards in wood or foam for 3d Boards. I want to make a dice tower and also want to make a 3d Talisman board for the kids!


I’m ALREADY loosing sleep over GF projects - stop giving me exciting IDEAS!!!

Whether you are creating something for personal or commercial use it does infringe on their intellectual property. Best practice is to get their permission for ANY use.

Typically personal use is seen as OK because it is unlikely to be enforced. But, ~BE ADVISED~ it is still an infringement of their intellectual property.

“Personal Use” is not Fair Use. Fair Use is when you are doing a bake sale and selling Starbuck’s coffee and you use their logo to in the flyers.

I will repeat…ANY use is an infringement of their intellectual property.

This is a constant battle with the new technologies that are being created.

Also, I am not an attorney. You should seek legal advise. I do have legal experience in this and others areas of the law. I have licensed intellectual property, trademarked intellectual property, copyrighted intellectual property, etc.


Be cautious in using things you are finding on the internet. Research each sites licensing and use. For instance…someone above suggested Free Images as a site to get things.

Here is a link to their licensing page: Specifically refer to section 3e.

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YIKES. “Free” but not good for resale. Wow, this is going to be interesting for sure… Thanks a ton for the insights!

Interesting - your post got me thinking so I did some digging on a famous “paper crafter” and you can buy, right from her website, a one year license to cut and resell some of her specific designs:

The licence lasts one year and states the RRP for selling your cuts, as
well as the maximum number of cuts you can sell per annum.
The templates are for paper cutting only. The designs cannot be altered, resold or distributed in any way without permission.

I guess it’s just going to require some legwork to get permission.

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Sometimes it depends on the age of the art. Older images (pre-1923) may be in the public domain, and therefore eligible to use. This is for US based art tho. Not all countries follow this public domain law.