Posted Apr 20, 2006 8:27 UTC (Thu) by pjm
Parent article: Rockbox's jewels
It is useful for Free Software programmers to be knowledgable about copyright law, so it would be nice to see a reference for the claim that icons do not infringe copyright even if they have been "copied from" (by way of deliberate though inexact imitation) a copyrighted work (or from an infringing copy of that work) without permission of the copyright owner.
I've spent a while trying to come up with a reference one way or another for the case of Australian copyright law (just by reading a textual copy of the Copyright Act 1968). (I don't know how relevant Australian copyright law is to the Rockbox case, it's just the law most relevant to me as an Australian.)
It seems that for "artistic works" (as distinct from e.g. "literary works", including computer programs), adaptation is not one of the rights reserved for copyright owners: see section 31 ‘Nature of copyright in original works’. (See section 10 ‘Interpretation’ for definition of ‘artistic works’.)
Section 21 ‘Reproduction and copying of works and other subject-matter’ paragraph 3 gives some fairly narrow cases where non-identical copies are considered reproductions of artistic works; and paragraph 1A of that section says that all “conver[sions] into ... digital ... form” are considered reproductions.
(Conversely, section 77A ‘Certain reproductions of an artistic work do not infringe copyright’ gives a few things that are considered reproduction but that do not infringe copyright.)
Another section relevant to non-exact copying is section 14 ‘Acts done in relation to substantial part of work or other subject-matter deemed to be done in relation to the whole’.
I can't see any other guidance in the Act as to what counts as a “reproduction” (or “conversion”, in the case of conversion to digital form); so I suppose we look to a dictionary or everyday usage.
In the case of paintings, the term “reproduction” includes manual, inexact copies, though my very ignorant impression is that it is still fairly narrow in what is considered a reproduction as distinct from adaptation.
Nevertheless, as a non-specialist in either art or law, I might consider, say, the orange, yellow & green jewels to be reproductions of the corresponding Bejeweled icons, at least if they had in fact been copied directly from Bejeweled rather than via Gwled etc.
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