Heidi at The Beat had a good bit the other day about artwork that artists just copy from photographs and other sources. The key to the piece, though, was the letter she reprinted (courtesy of TCJ's message board) from Marvel's managing editor to freelancers:
MARVEL ORIGINAL ARTWORK POLICY
ALL- There's been some confusion regarding the use of copyrighted materials in work submitted to Marvel. Please note that Marvel pays for original artwork, and your work made for hire contract requires you to represent that everything you are doing for Marvel is original.
It is appropriate to use photographs or other copyrighted works for inspiration, for example if you need to see what the architecture of New Orleans looks like. However, what you cannot do is copy or take so many elements from a protected work that you effectively copy it.
Therefore, NEVER copy a photograph or any artwork you do not own the copyright in or that you re not sure is in the public domain. Photographers own the copyright in their works (or they have assigned the copyright to a publisher, etc.) and they are notoriously protective of their work. The same can be said of any paintings, print, scupture, etc.
There is a fine line between HOMAGE and RIP-OFF-make sure you are firmly on the side of using your own creative elements. A simple rule of thumb is to consider whether someone looking at your drawing and the reference material will think that one is derivative of the other. If so, you have gone too far and taken too much.
We know you want to bring an incredible sense of realism to the page and want to support you. Please speak with your editors regarding any concerns or questions that you have regarding the use of reference materials. By working together, we can create a work that is both inspired and unique.
Thanks for your time, David Bogart
How awesome is that?
I posit quite awesome!
Even if it threatens to cut down on what I can tease comic book artists about!