Do You Need Permission to Share a Comic or Cartoon?

A cute copyright-related comic was emailed to me by a friend this week.  The comic would be fun to publish in The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter, use in one of my slides when I present on copyright, or even post on this blog. When I click on the comic on GoComics.com, an icon appears that includes the words “drag to share” which then allows me to drop it into Twitter, Yahoo! or Email and share it – I interpret that as implied consent to share the comic in those manners. An additional SHARE button allows me 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. Generally, I do not obtain permission when I include a URL.

Another site, Thecomicstrips.com reproduces the comic and when I put my 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. For my purposes, it would cost me $200 to reproduce the comic in the print volume of The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter 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 my blog, it would cost me $500 for one year. I 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.

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.

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