Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Michigan

Copywrite art

I am working on a City-wide community project

involving the "fish around Grand Rapids". It is

non-profit artistic event like the cow idea in

Chicago. We would like to include famous photographs

of current events and newspaper articles to enhance

the look of our temporary sculpture. Does the

copywrite law restrict artistic creation of


Asked on 5/17/00, 5:07 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Theresa Peeler Law Office of T. M. Peeler

Re: Copywrite art

Are you are inquiring about using newspaper articles and photographs of famous people and events free of charge? If so, the copyright law allows several exemptions such as when the information will be used for purposes of teaching. I am not familiar with the Chicago example you cited, however, under the copyright law, section 110 (2)(A), there is an exemption when, "the performance or display is a regular part of the systematic instructional activities of a governmental body or a nonprofit educational institution."

Section 110 (4) allows an exemption for a "performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work otherwise than in a transmission to the public, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage and without payment of any fee or other compensation for the performance to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers..."

I would encourage you to look at these sections of the copyright law in further detail as there are other sections which may apply to your situation. If what you are doing is for public education and is not a commercial venture, meaning the object is not to sell the fish for profit, or if so, the profit is for purely educational or charitable purposes, it is likely that you would fall under an exception to the law. If you would like a more definitive answer based upon a complete analysis of the project, don't hesitate to contact me off list. Good Luck!

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Answered on 7/04/00, 12:47 pm

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