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Dash of Inspiration: Marketability – Creative Use Policy

September 9, 2013

A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

Marketability: Creative Use Policy


Let’s keep this series going by heading into the last grouping of the Submission Guidelines; Marketability and next up is Photo Card Area.


MARKETABILITY: Creative Use Policy


The Submission Guidelines state this: Effective immediately all derivative works containing elements and/or photographs that are not the original creations of the submitting artist, or the reviewer feels are not the original creations of the submitting artist, must have a link(s) to the elements/photograph or thorough source description provided in the Notes to Reviewer. This allows for a quicker review process and after all, YOU are the one who obtained the elements and know the copyright holders terms so it is quick and easy for you to provide that information. Reviewers will continue to return card submissions when the ownership is in question and no links or information are provided. These issues pertain to the right to sell the card and therefore its marketability.  


Artists who are new to the creative world, often do not understand the true meaning of a Derivative Work. Many places such as; the MorgueFile license the offered content under a Creative Commons license which DOES NOT mean the content has been released into Public Domain; another common mistake.


For example, this is Morgue Files TOU:


“You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.”


So, this means that by downloading a photograph from MorgueFile, putting it on a card with a border and words IS NOT a derivative work and can be considered copyright infringement by the copyright owner, because you are using the photograph in a stand alone manner, rather than adapting or creating a derivative work.


An example of a derivative work is one that is primarily a new work, but incorporates some previously published material. This previously published material makes the work a derivative work under the copyright law. To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a “new work” or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes. The new material must be original, as opposed to an exact copy or minor variation of a work.


Why is this definition important? Because one of the six exclusive rights given to a copyright owner is the right “to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.” Only copyright owners have the exclusive right to produce derivative works based on their original, copyrighted works. Copyright on original works of authorship is automatic, and registration—while it does carry significant benefits, like the right to sue for infringement—is not required for a work to be protected; protection attaches immediately when the work is completed.


However, a copyright owner can grant permission to someone else to make a derivative work based on his or her original—this is what places like MorgueFile are doing – if permission is granted (in the form of a license or assignment), then creation of the derivative work is not infringement. Derivative work is an artistic work derived from one or more pre-existing original works.


Now let’s view some examples of Derivative Works.


image september 1


So, my Note to Reviewer looked like this:


This image was created using 26 different bits and pieces.


Small tabby cats from PhotoRack here:




Cat on the sofa from CepolinaPhotos here:




Sofa from Pixabay here:




Background from MorgueFile here:


TOU listed on same link page.


Underwater elements, plants, dolphin, etc. from OutlawByDesign where I hold a CU Membership. TOU here:


Remaining elements created by me.


My Artist’s Notes look like this where I offer credit, even to that in public domain:


This zany digital composition has elements of 16 photographs and 10 graphic elements to represent my interpretation of a feline’s dream. Original artwork by Doreen Erhardt©2013 and the St. George Salon of Art, LLC. Elements by PSchubert at Morguefile, Pixabay, Photorack, and Outlawbydesign.


There are many ways to create a derivative work. Use the photograph as a reference for a new painting. Remove elements from a photo and combine with other elements to create a new work. Use as a background to a new piece which combines other elements.


And ALWAYS give credit, it’s the right thing to do.  You should credit the source(s) even when the elements you took are in public domain.  Wouldn’t you want someone to offer you credit if your photograph was used in a new work?  Be professional … read the TOU … follow the TOU … credit the contributor(s).


If there are no TOU, nothing which states under what license/rights you can use the work, or releases it into public domain status … you CAN NOT use it.  If you don’t want your work returned or declined under GCU’s Creative Use Policy, then USE your Note to Review field properly, use it thoroughly and treat the contributors out there for designers like us, with the same respect you feel you deserve as an artist.


image september 2




Here are some great tips:


This post will help you to better understand the various TOU/


This post gives you a better understanding of how to offer credit to contributors:


Next week we’ll continue in the final group of the Submission Guidelines: MARKETABILITY and talk about the No Thank You section. Till next week, I hope I’ve inspired you to learn more!


For great resources & tips visit the SalonOfArt

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2013 8:52 am

    Great article and very clear, Doreen! Thanks!

  2. Donna permalink
    September 9, 2013 10:40 am

    how do you provide proof if the art is your own? Just say it or is there a better way to provide it. I ask because at one time a photo I took of a peacock was put into question and I ended up pulling the card as it fell substandard when I started culling my own images. However, I would like to know how best to convey that information should I use that image again in a different situation.

    • September 9, 2013 11:01 am

      Since you have to add a Note to Reviewers anyway, simply state something like “photograph is my own work.”


    • September 9, 2013 2:52 pm

      Exactly as Corrie stated Donna. I often say “I own the rights to the photograph or my own photograph”.

      • Donna permalink
        September 9, 2013 9:00 pm

        thank you. I wasn’t sure if just saying photo was mine was sufficient or if giving dates, times and locations and cam data would be overkill.

  3. September 9, 2013 1:06 pm

    What a great article! I’ve always avoided using morgue type files because I didn’t know how to go about offering credit. Thank you for showing an example.

  4. September 9, 2013 2:54 pm

    You’re welcome Steppeland and Tracie, thanks for stopping by!

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