Using Templates - Copyright Infringement?

Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 11:09 am
I was having a discussion with someone at work about adapting a graphics-oriented template that comes supplied with graphics product we either own or subscribe to - and the person voiced what I believe to be a perhaps uninformed and definitely overly-cautious statement of, ". . . well if we adapt that template, are there any copyright issues?". Yikes!

I pointed that we have purchased (or subscribed) to the product and that the templates are provided with the intent of being adapted by the end-user and that we would be adding additional graphic elements to these templates that would result in this being what I believe qualifies as, if not an original artistic output then more likely a "transformative work" (I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that's the legal terminology regarding artistic works).

Some would characterize me as "reckless" that I would be willing to take "a risk", but I'm sick to death of our overly rules-sensitive culture, and while I appreciate why copyright laws exist, I think I understand the difference between "the fair use" principle and plagiarism and copyright infringement, and neither of those are in play in this situation, and if they are - what the heck good would a "template" be anyway? And by definition, a template is a document or file having a preset format, used as a starting point for a particular application so that the format does not have to be recreated each time it is used. I won't be unhappy is someone suggests that I can push the button marked - No Need to Consult Counsel, but I'm also willing to hear that I'm wrong (which will make me less-happy . . . http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/sm-rolleyes.gif)
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2014 01:13 pm
If the template came with the product, it's likely that it's fine for all uses, but there's no harm in RTFM.

Many such templates require that footer or other attribution information be included when they're used, but otherwise usage is fairly open.

If you're really concerned, Google the template and the terms "fair use" or "creative commons" (use the quotation marks as these are terms of art) and see if the template comes up, or a reasonable substitution does.
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2014 08:20 am
Would this be similar to using some kind of graphics program, like PrintArtist, to do a newletter or to design a greetingcard or game?

I believe it would be a TOOL used to do an original creation.
Reply Tue 14 Jan, 2014 05:02 pm
In response to both of these observations - I think what's proposed is correct. I did check with my brother, who is a lawyer (and perhaps a questionable one at that . . . but you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family) - and he confirms that by definition - templates are not subject to copyright protection, if they are used for the original purpose intended, and as provided for by the product.

To assume otherwise, would have you necessarily including a copyright permissions statement every time you opened a New Word document template, or started a new PowerPoint presentation using one of the templates that are provided. Double yikes!
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