Copyright, what is it? Can you use works, or images without precaution? How are the works produced protected? To answer all these questions, I contacted Kelly Hazan, lawyer at the Paris Bar, atpartner of Hazan Avocats . To contact her, her email is as follows
Copyright is acquired without formality, by the very fact of the creation of a so-called “original” work.
There is no exhaustive list of works protected by copyright. The Intellectual Property Code specifies that the work must have an original character and that it be shaped in a concrete way.
Works protected by copyright include:
- Literary works such as novels, poems, plays, newspaper articles;
- Films, musical compositions and choreographic works;
- Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures;
- software and databases.
Thus, not all creative activities are necessarily covered by copyright. For example, ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such are not protected by copyright.
What rights does the author have?
Copyright grants two types of rights to the author of an original work:
- Moral rights, which protect the non-economic interests of the author, namely:
- The right to claim authorship of a work. For example: the name of the author must appear on the work or next to it (commonly called ” credits ” or ” copyright “, “Ó”);
- The right to oppose modifications to a work that risk damaging the reputation of the creator. The author can then object to any disclosure of his work that would be made without his consent.
This moral right is perpetual and the author cannot assign it .
- Economic rights, which govern the exploitation of the work. This right allows in particular:
- To receive remuneration for the use of a work;
- To authorize or prevent certain uses in connection with a work, including the following acts:
- The reproduction or adaptation of his work in various forms; – the public performance of his work;
- Translation into other languages.
This patrimonial right lasts until 70 years after the death of the author or after the disclosure of the work if it belongs to a legal person (company, association).
Consequently, it is forbidden to modify a work without the prior consent of its author.
This rule applies both for a significant or minimal modification of the work (for example: adding a filter to a photo), whether the work has been made public or not.
We often talk about the prohibition of plagiarism, namely the fact of reproducing the work exactly and pretending to be the author. But the only use of the work, its publication or the use of a work to create a new one, is prohibited without the agreement of the author.
How does the author transfer his rights?
The assignment of copyright must follow a strict format. Indeed, the transfer of copyright is made in writing. This writing can take several forms: a contract, a mention in an estimate, a document annexed to an estimate or an invoice, a mention in the general conditions of sale or use (“CGV” or “CGU”) . This writing must identify the rights transferred in a precise manner (examples: reproduction rights, right of publication, etc.). This writing also makes it possible to predict whether the author will be paid for the assignment of his copyright.
What are the penalties for copyright infringement? To assert his rights, the author can:
- On social networks, request the deletion of his work by reporting the work or the account of the user who used his work. For information on Instagram, after three reports, Instagram deletes the account of the user who published the author of the work without his authorization.
- At the penal level: the violation of copyright constitutes an offense of counterfeiting. This offense is punishable by a fine of 300,000 euros and 3 years’ imprisonment (CPI, art. L. 335-2 s.). An offense of counterfeiting is defined in particular as ” any reproduction, representation or distribution, by any means whatsoever, of an intellectual work in violation of the copyright, as defined and regulated by the law. »
- At the civil level: the author can take legal action to demand the payment of damages from the person (natural or legal) who infringed his work. As part of this procedure, the author will have to prove that the counterfeiting of his work has caused him damage / prejudice.
What are the exceptions to copyright?
Article L122-5 of the Intellectual Property Code lists the exceptions applicable to copyright.
Thus, the author cannot in particular prohibit, when the work is disclosed:
- Private and free performances performed exclusively within a family circle;
- Provided that the name of the author and the source are clearly indicated:
- Analyzes and short quotations justified by the critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informative nature of the work in which they are incorporated;
- Press reviews;
- Parody, pastiche and caricature, taking into account the laws of the genre.
I thank Kelly very much for all these explanations on the subject.
In conclusion, it is not possible to make modifications to images, and the images must be credited. Obviously, everything is possible when we agree together on other conditions.