Does uploading profile pictures breach copyright laws?

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by SantaClaus, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. SantaClaus
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    SantaClaus Member

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    Some profile pictures on this website contain characters copyrighted by various companies. I'm not going to single anyone out, but many members, including staff, use characters from games and TV shows in their profile picture.
     
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  2. B4rtj4h

    B4rtj4h Gaming addict #2 and some

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    That is a good question. However, since you earn no money I think this is "allowed"
     
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  3. Viri

    Viri GBAtemp Addict

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    The copyright owners don't care.
     
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  4. linuxares

    linuxares I'm not a generous god!

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    Hmm... most likely it's fine since a majority of it actually is promotional stuff. Example the picture I use
     
  5. kikongokiller

    kikongokiller GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Feel free to hmu if you want a custom copyright-free fair use profile picture
     
  6. yuyuyup

    yuyuyup GBAtemp Psycho!

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    You will never get in trouble for it, however companies ARE within their right to offer "cease and desist" to make you get rid of it (or make GBAtemp get rid of it.) This is with precident, I've seen various youtube channels get DESTROYED because they used a tiny music sample etc. And yes, I've seen it happen with merely an avatar (however, in that case they were going so far as to sell merchandise with the copyrighted image, to put it in context.)
     
  7. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    If the picture is "official" or otherwise incorporating "sufficient creative effort" by someone else, yes they have (at least some) of the copyright on it
    So the next question is, how many reasonably provable* damages did your likely unauthorized duplication result in?

    * being a civil case, it's "reasonably" and not "beyond any reasonable doubt"

    Next, you said copyright, but when you talk about characters (rather than limiting the discussion to their representations) it's more of trademark territory - as you may have heard there's no "do nothing" option against those violations, but you can avoid violating it in the first place by avoiding any confusion that you may be its creator/etc (ie there's a difference between putting Pikachu in your 100% free video game, in an iPhone cover sold for profit that clearly acknowledges being unofficial, and in a space where most uneducated people can quickly tell is used by anyone as "my favorite image")
     
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  8. dAVID_

    dAVID_ Electrician's Apprentice

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    Technically, yes. However, in the United States there is the concept of fair use, which means under certain circumstances you can use copyrighted works without infringing copyright.

    An upside of living in a third world country (like Mexico) is that the government (and therefore your ISP) don't care at all about piracy.
     
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  9. SantaClaus
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    SantaClaus Member

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    What would happen if you port scanned or successfully hacked a foreign server?
     
  10. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    those kinds of things are usually enforced in most countries, it would ultimately depend on "what" you hack, i.e random small business probably nothing without some serious cost to the owner of the business, but if you hack nasa, the cia or something and leave yourself traceable im sure some strings would be pulled to ensure get you punished even if no extradition laws apply
     
  11. WeedZ

    WeedZ Possibly an Enlightened Being

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    Fair use my dudes
     
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  12. dAVID_

    dAVID_ Electrician's Apprentice

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    What does that have to do with copyright?
     
  13. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Under the strictest senses of the term then yeah you would be using a copyrighted (possibly also trademarked*) work without permission, and I don't particularly see a fair use/fair dealing argument. However if they dragged you into court they would also want to be in a position to prove losses or that it provides unfair competition for their work.

    At the same time even a company as stupid as Nintendo will probably recognise the value in having a character plastered around the joint as free advertising of a sort.

    *trademarks have a concept called genericide where if a holder does not enforce their trademark then it becomes void. I doubt simple forum use would come close to bothering this though.

    Probably the two main scenarios in which something would be done would be a) something like Scientology where they go after leakers of their "works" with copyright a lot of the time if you chose to make it such a thing, and b) if they thought association with a site/group was damaging the brand and just wanted shot of it. We have seen a few instances of b) before among the various political video circles, though several of those had other factors at play as well.
     
  14. WeedZ

    WeedZ Possibly an Enlightened Being

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    @FAST6191 It totally falls under fair use. It's a minuscule portion of a copyrighted work being used for reasons not for profit, without diminishing the value of the original work.
     
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  15. Lilith Valentine

    Lilith Valentine GBATemp's Succubus™ The Adorable Enby

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    Fair use with pictures is a bit of a mess and something I had to become very familiar due to my old job. That being said, unless someone is going out of their way to find each person using their pictures and tracking them down, sending a C&D, etc.. In short, no is going to copyright strike an avatar because that’s a lot work with no pay off
     
  16. Hells Malice

    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    If you have no possible grasp of anything you're talking about you may just want to leave your shower thoughts in the shower.

    No in no universe is a profile picture ever going to be a copyright breach. That's not remotely how anything works. If GBAtemp decided to sell copyrighted material as avatars, sure maybe someone would legally care (spoiler: no one would care) but otherwise there's no case and no breach in users using profile pictures.
     
  17. Chary

    Chary Never sleeps.

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    If a company wants to go after every single forum/discord/disquss user to ever exist with a copyrighted character in their profile picture, go ahead. I'd bring popcorn to the courtroom to laugh as it gets thrown out of court for being ridiculous.
     
  18. James_

    James_ *Meowstic noises*

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    I hate popcorn, I'll bring pretzels instead.

    This is my 69th post. Nice.
     
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  19. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Going through the usual four factors thing ( https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/four-factors/ ) I reckon I could make a case and dodge a de minimis argument (typical avatar shots could do some heart of the work type stuff), especially if it is combined with a notable person (think forum mod/face of the site rather than libel law) on a site/person in some disrepute (here I presume they would go for the piracy angle, though I reckon I could also do a standing in the community argument for something like Kotaku).
     
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  20. DinohScene

    DinohScene Feed Dino to the Sharks

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    I doubt Zag studios or Thomas Astruc is going to hunt me down with a C&D.
     
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