Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property

Q: If I draw someones character they copyrighted under US copyright act 1976, can they request a takedown legally

i'm canadian and i drew someone's original character that they have copyrighted under the united states copyright act of 1976, theyre requesting a takedown of their character. is it illegal to draw their character and post it to my telegram channel where i post all my artwork?

2 Lawyer Answers
Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Milford, CT

A: This is a fun choice of law question. What matters is not your citizenship but rather where Telegram servers are and where Telegram is incorporated. If Telegram is a U.S. company or has servers in the United States then DMCA applies.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, copyright automatically applies to original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. This includes original characters.

However, there are some exceptions and nuances to consider:

1. Fair Use: If your use of the copyrighted character falls under "fair use," such as for purposes of criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, you may have a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.

2. Transformative Work: If your artwork significantly transforms or recontextualizes the original character, it might be considered a transformative work, which could also potentially fall under fair use.

3. Jurisdiction: While the character is copyrighted under U.S. law, it's important to note that copyright laws vary by country. As a Canadian, Canadian copyright laws would also apply to you.

4. Permission: If you had permission from the copyright owner to use their character, then there would be no issue. However, it seems that this is not the case here.

Ultimately, if the copyright owner believes that your use of their character infringes on their copyright, they have the right to request a takedown under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Whether your use actually constitutes infringement would depend on the specific facts of the situation.

To avoid potential legal issues, it's generally best to seek permission from the copyright owner before using their original characters in your artwork. If you believe your use falls under fair use or is transformative, you may want to consult with a copyright attorney to assess your specific situation.

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