There have been a lot of comments about copyright infringement in the Make Your Owon Tattoo-Inspired Graphic Design contest. I received a message from one concerned user. I will not include their message to us, but just my response.
They raised concerns about whether some of the users were following the rules as they relate to an original design. And they were concerned that some of the submissions were violating copyright.
Here is my response.
Sorry that you have had a bad experience. Let me try to address your concerns. We really want this to be a good place for teens to explore and create with technology.
The first concern that you raised is around originality of the submitted design. It is true that the contest requires the submission to be of your own creation, but that does not mean everything that you use in your design has to be created by you. A good example are "brushes" that are used with gimp or photoshop. These are components that you can combine in new and different ways to make own creation. This is perfectly acceptable as an original design. Another great example is the piece of original art that was in the de Saisset museum as part of their Contemporary New Media Art exhibit called "Everythign Must Go" (http://www.scu.edu/desaisset/exhibits/Tech-Tools-of-the-Trade.cfm). This art is made up of technology printed off and then attached to cardboard in the shape of the original device. The museum certinly thought that this was original art!
So the fact that some of the submissions to the Ed Hardy Tattoo Design contest were a combinations of art that alerady existed, together with some of their own work, is completely acceptable.
The second issue is very different. We follow the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. We have a very clear and documented Copyright & IP policy. If a person determines that copyrighted material has been used, they can follow the process described there and submit a "DMCA Notice of Alleged Infringement." When we receive this, we will take the submission down. If the submitter disagrees with the takedown, their disagreement is with the person who submitted the notice, not with us. We simply provide a service where users can upload and share the things that they have created. In that way, we are just like YouTube. They follow the same process. Neither of us determine what violates copyright, we respond when we receive a notive of infringement.
I hope this helps to clear up the situation. We did not make a mistake. We have not been unfair. And we do not support the illegal use of copyrighted material. There is a very clear and well defined process that all large websites use. We will take down any submissions where this process is followed.
I hope your high school and college students do write about copyright. I hope that they spend the time to understand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and the process that is used to deal with copyright infringement on the web. This would be a valuable article as it is clear from the comments on FreshBrain that most users do not understand how this works.
I will post my response to your email on FreshBrain as well in hopes that some of our users will read and learn from it.