Copyright Law and Comics
Is this copyright scenario familiar to you? A funny comic strip is forwarded to you by a colleague. He suggests you copy and paste the comic to your website because it is relevant to a recent article. Perhaps the article is on copyright law and it is a copyright-related comic. You do want to post the comic. What do you do? Do you use it? Do you obtain permission to use it? Always best to do your research and start with the assumption that all content is protected by copyright.
In this situation, the comic is online and you have the option to click on the comic on GoComics.com. When you do that, an icon appears that includes the words “drag to share” which then allows you to drop it into Twitter, Yahoo! or Email and share it. An additional SHARE button allows you to bookmark and share on MySpace!, Delicious, Reddit and other social networking sites. An option is also provided to copy the link: http://www.gocomics.com/frankandernest/2012/11/26.
Copyright Permissions for Comic Strips
Another site, Thecomicstrips.com reproduces the comic and when you place your cursor over the comic, an icon comes up in red that says: COPYNO.com. This is obviously an indication that permission is needed to reproduce the comic. This site provides a link to Reprint Cost Guidelines. If for example, you want to publish the comic in a low circulation newsletter the fee is $200 to reproduce the comic in the print version and $300 in the electronic version of the newsletter. Use of the comic for a presentation starts at $50, depending on audience size, number of repetitions of the presentation, and whether the slides for the presentation will be shared in print or posted online. To post the comic on your blog, the fee is $500 for one year. You cannot modify the image at all. It appears that the fees are guidelines and there is a click through button which acts as a permission request in which one may insert one’s own information such as name, email, cartoons to be licensed, purpose of license, and related details to request permission.
Information on academic usage for this particular comic/cartoon is provided here.
Permission to Share a Comic or Cartoon?
So, do you need permission to share or reproduce a comic or cartoon? Yes, comics and cartoons are protected by copyright and in most circumstances you need permission to reproduce them, either implied or explicit permission. It is likely that you will come across a website or two that provides you with information about permissions, when permission is required, and the process and fees.