Copyright in screenshots? Who owns it?
January 23, 2007 7:53 PM Subscribe
Can anyone explain, in some detail, precisely *how* the taking and use of a screenshot of a program running on a computer can infringe the copyrights or trademarks of others?
posted by baylink to law & government (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a foofaraw going on just now on one of the Wikipedia mailing lists about the fact that Wikimedia Commons has what I, personally, feel is *entirely* too strict a policy concerning screenshots (where, by too strict, I mean that in the example of a screenshot of a website in a browser, they're concerned with infringing on the copyright not only of the website and it's designers and copywriters -- which I could just barely understand -- but also the trademark of the browser creator (for its logo) and the copyright of the creator of the desktop manager design -- Apple's Aqua, by example).
My assertion is that if I create a screenshot, *I* own a copyright in it, and that any infringement could only be by defining it as a derivative work. I thought I understood "derivative work", but they're trying really hard to convince me I'm out of my mind.
To be clear, they don't require that the program be a browser: they're just as happy to claim these infringements about screenshots of other types of running programs.
Certainly any of those party's lawers could convince them to sue, whether they have clear and reasonable grounds or not, and they have more money than you do -- though WMF certainly has a legal budget these days after a $1.5MUS pledge drive last month.
So, in the real world, can a screenshot -- given that screenshots are almost uniformly made either for identification, illustration, or educational purposes -- *actually* infringe any of those things?
(Extra points for case law; I'll be happy to look up the citations myself.)
I know we have some lawyers, I know this won't be legal advice, I also know it's federal jurisdiction, so the usual "I'm in another state" reply will matter less. Any thoughts?