The Lion King Fan-Art Archive is a fan site for a movie created by the
Walt Disney Company, which holds all intellectual property rights to the
characters and story of The Lion King. As fans, we have to abide by
certain restrictions on our artistic creations that belong to a universe
that technically belongs to someone else.

Is Fan-Art Legal?

It's legal to make fan-art of established commercial trademarked
characters (such as Simba and Nala and Kovu) under the "parody"
provisions in most countries' copyright law. However, fan-art you create
of these trademarked characters is derivative work, which means that the
protections of copyright law for you are rather different from its
protections for artists whose work is entirely original in concept.

The remainder of this page discusses your legal and practical
liabilities in creating artwork based on the Lion King universe.

Protecting your Copyright

Protecting your artwork from being stolen is one of the biggest
unpleasant realities of being an artist on the Internet. No matter
whether you use watermarks, copyright notices, or Java-based protection
systems, as long as it's possible to view a picture in a web browser, it
is subject to being stolen.

Fortunately, however, the law is on your side, even if the technology
isn't. This page contains links to helpful resources which should help
if you find yourself in a position where you have to defend the
copyright of your artwork.

### Copyright Issues for Fan Artists

#### The term is "copyright", and a work is "copyrighted".

Not "copywritten", not "copywrighted". The term copyright means the
right to copy something. When Joe Artist claims that a piece of work is
" 2002 Joe Artist", he's saying that he owns the sole right to copy
that piece of work, and nobody else has that right. That's what the 
symbol means.

A "copywriter" is a person who writes the text in advertising. That has
nothing to do with copyright.

**Note:** The  symbol is easy to create. On a Macintosh, press
Option+G. In Windows, hold down Alt and enter 0169 (one at a time, in
order). If you use the numeric keypad, make sure Num Lock is turned on.

#### Copy-protection doesn't work.

Here are some of the most common ways people try to protect the art that
they post; unfortunately, no method is perfect, and you have to choose
one of the following, drawbacks and all:

1.  **Abstinence.** Don't post your pictures at all. This is perfect
    copy-protection, yes, but it means nobody can see the pictures. That
    surely isn't what you want.
2.  **Copyright notices.** Most people post their pictures with a simple
    copyright notice at the edge: " 2002 Joe Artist. Unauthorized
    redistribution is prohibited." This is accurate, doesn't interfere
    with the artwork, and reflects the fact that Joe Artist is in fact
    the legal copyright holder, and has the legal right to prosecute
    anybody who copies the picture. However, that doesn't usually stop
    peopleand a copyright notice at the edge of a picture is easy to
    crop out by someone who wants to pretend they drew it.
3.  **Watermarks.** One technique frequently used by people interested
    in protecting the saleability of their art is to put "watermarks",
    or semi-transparent text, right across the middle of the image
    (saying "DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE" or some such). The idea behind this is
    that removing the watermark is really difficultanybody who wants to
    steal the picture would have to either keep it in place and visible,
    or would have so much skill with Photoshop that they could probably
    make their own art if they wanted to. But the drawback is that it
    looks really ugly, and the original artist doesn't get to enjoy
    using the art as it was originally intended to look.
4.  **Low-resolution Images.** Artists who are concerned with making
    sure people can't make full-size prints of their pictures or
    otherwise enjoy them fully will post their pictures as small
    "thumbnail" images, only 200 or 300 pixels wide at most. This also
    has the problem that the original artists don't get to enjoy using
    the full-size pictures, unless they exist only to sell prints; and
    art thieves have no problem with copying small pictures.
5.  **Java Art-Security Applets.** Some sites provide a service in which
    you can have your art displayed in a Java applet within your
    browser, instead of as a directly included GIF or JPEG file. The
    idea is that you can't save the picture from within the Java applet
    as easily as right-clicking on it, as is normally the case. But the
    problem is that it's just as easy to do screen captures... in
    Windows, simply press PrintScreen and then paste into Paint, and you
    have a copy of the full screen (including the displayed picture),
    which you can then trim down to the size of the picture and save it.
    On the Mac, Command+Shift+3 saves a snapshot of the entire screen
    onto the Desktop. True, the resulting picture might not have quite
    the same quality as the original, due to JPEG recompressionbut for
    most art thieves, that's not a problem. (Another issue with the Java
    applets is that some of them are designed very poorly; one, for
    example, lets you select which picture you want to viewand then it
    makes a request for the URL of the plain GIF or JPEG file, which it
    sends in cleartext over the network. An art thief can easily sniff
    this URL request from the network and grab the picture directly.)
6.  **No protection.** The last alternative is to simply not worry about
    it. Accept the fact that posting art onto the Internet is equivalent
    to relinquishing the majority of your control over it (though not
    your rights to it). You always have copyright protection, if you
    have drawn the picture. Even putting a copyright notice on the
    picture does not in itself grant you any extra legal protectionall
    it does is to say clearly who owns the copyright. You still own
    that, under the law, even if you don't sign the pictureand with
    evidence such as the original sketch or computer files, you can
    successfully prosecute any thief in a court of law. And so worrying
    about copy-protection can easily be judged to be more trouble than
    it's worth.

#### Fan-art of copyrighted characters has no legal protection.

If you draw Simba or Nala or Kovu, you are creating a derivative
worksomething that U.S. law explicitly defines as being owned by the
creator of the original work. Without Disney's permission, all fan-art
and fan-fiction using their characters is in fact illegal. Now, don't
panicmost entertainment companies (like Disney, Paramount, Dreamworks,
etc.) tend to overlook these kinds of copyright violations. (That's how has continued to exist all these years.) They realize that
fan creativity is worth more to them in having good relations with their
fans than they would gain by aggressively pursuing each and every
violation, because usually nobody makes any money off fan-based
creations. But that doesn't mean that it's not illegal. The Lion King
fan-art and fan-fiction community exists solely because Disney allows it
to. Read item \#6 at the "[10 Big
Myths](" site listed
below; it specifically addresses this point.

Now, fan-art that doesn't contain copyrighted Lion King characterswell,
that's fully protected under copyright law. Even when placed vaguely
within the Lion King universe, it's still original work. But when you
start using names and terms from Disney's work, yours becomes a
derivative work and loses its protection.

So if someone steals your picture of Simba or Nala, you're pretty much
out of luckbecause it wasn't really legal in the first place.
Technically, under the law, you still retain the sole copyright over
your work, but because it's a derivative work, even the copyright holder
can't copy it. So neither you nor Disney has the right to copy or
redistribute it. Similarly, if someone copies your picture of Simba or
Nala, you have the legal power to stop them from posting or
redistributing itbut you don't own that picture either. Derivative
works are non-distributable under the law by either the original
copyright holder or the creator of the derivative work, unless
permission is given.

Don't let this scare you off from drawing Lion King characters! As long
as the characters aren't portrayed in any way that Disney would object
to (e.g. pornographic, overly violent, defamatory to Disney, etc.), they
don't pursue these kinds of copyright violations. True Lion King fan-art
is the core of this Archive, so please keep doing it!

#### You can't copyright a character.

Abstract concepts, such as characters, are not covered under copyright
law. The only way copyright law protects a character is if the character
is part of a published work: art, fiction, online role-playing, etc. The
character is a "derivative work" in this case, and protected under the
copyright of the original work. The only way to protect a character
directly is to register it legally as a trademark.

If someone creates a character that resembles yours a little too much,
pretty much the only thing you can do is to try to persuade the person
(as politely as possible) that that character was your idea first, and
you'd like them to change theirs. But one way to ensure at least some
kind of protection and accountability for your character is to register
it in the "Edit Characters" section in your artist account, where you
can link it to a story that it appears in (thus putting it into the same
copyright protection as the story).

#### You can't copyright a pose.

If you see a piece of art in which a character is in a very similar pose
to one of your pictures, unfortunately the law does not offer protection
against that kind of theftposes are not technically copyrightable.
However... if a picture is a direct trace of another picture, where it
is clear that the picture was copied or traced line-for-line from
another piece of art, then it is a copyright violation, and the original
artist is within his or her rights to ask that the copied picture be

This often involves a "judgment call"sometimes it's not obvious whether
a picture is directly traced or not. But in any case, it is simply
impolite to copy another artist's pose without permission, and it goes
against the etiquette of the community. If you would
like to use another artist's pose as the basis for your own work, simply
ask the artist for permission; chances are that he or she will be
flattered, and very glad that you askedand you'll get to use that pose.
What have you got to lose?

#### Don't steal software!

If you're going to be aggressive about protecting the copyright on your
artwork, you'd better not be using stolen software. There is no double
standard here: a pirated copy of Photoshop is every bit as bad as a
ripped-off piece of artwork. Just because something can be gotten for
free doesn't make it right to do so; if you're using an illegal copy of
Photoshop or Flash, then you're doing the same thing that art thieves
do. Please keep that in mind.

Yes, programs like Photoshop and Flash are expensive. But so is a car.
You wouldn't steal a car just because you needed one and thought you
could get away with it, would you? You wouldn't try to justify it by
saying that the car companies "shouldn't be charging that much for them
in the first place"?

### Copyright Resources on the Web

#### R.I.G.H.T.S.


Full of real-world examples and written in plain English, this site is
well-designed and will give you all the tools you need for registering
copyrights, understanding terms, and protecting your work. Contains
things like sample "Terms of Use" pages and "Cease and Desist" letters.

#### 10 Big Myths about Copyright Explained


Written by long-time Internet entrepreneur and author Brad Templeton,
this site aims to address some of the major misconceptions people have
about copyright, and to explain the truth according to law. It's a brief
but very insightful read, and well worth your time.

#### Protection of Graphic Characters


In-depth legal discussion of the various issues involved with asserting
"copyright" and "trademark" on characters you create, by intellectual
property attorney Lloyd L. Rich.

#### The U.S. Copyright Office


Part of the Library of Congress website network, this site contains the
official rules and laws behind what copyright means to artists. Go here
to read the actual facts if what you're looking for is hard reference.

### Reporting Art Theft

I will take every reasonable action to prevent art theft from occurring
at, and while I do have to review every uploaded
piece of art, I can't catch every single piece of copied art-- and so I
need your help.

If you find evidence of stolen art in an artist's account, first try
asking the person directly to remove the art. Each artist's e-mail
address is listed at the top of his or her gallery pages, and in the
profile. Often, an artist will not realize that stealing art is against
the rules or frowned upon, and simply asking will get the art removed.

If the artist does not respond, or refuses to remove the art, please
e-mail me with details of the stolen art, with URL links to it and to
the art that it was stolen from, if possible. I'll take it from there.