Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exploding Head Coloring Book Lawsuit?

Dear Rich: I am planning to release an album on iTunes. For the cover I was planning on using a drawing that I traced from a coloring book, I'm assuming its copyrighted but have no clue where it is from. I traced the face but I altered it by having the head explode with rainbow colored popcorn and blood. I also colored the original black and white image. I was wondering if this will become a potential lawsuit or if it will be ok. First, of all, thanks for the warning. Second, you probably don't need to worry about being chased for your exploding coloring-book popcorn head (wow, what a great name for a band). Yes, it's true that the coloring book company owns the copyright for the images, and yes they could sue you for infringement. But it's unlikely that they would litigate against someone for reproducing a single colored-in image. (From a public relations point of view, that seems like a major sales turn off.) You may get some guidance if there are any restrictions listed in the coloring book. And you may be able to determine who owns the image by using this search engine. In addition, you may have a solid fair use claim -- your modification sounds sufficiently transformative. Okay, well it's time for the Dear Rich staff to get back to our coloring book.