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Author Topic: Using an image of a book or branded material object in one's advertising  (Read 234 times)

writingdino

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Hello,

My question concerns whether it's okay to use one's own image of a book cover on a flyer or other ad material when that book is still in copyright.  I am currently using antique books from my own library (C19 and older, all the way back to C17), so I presume that isn't an issue.  But what if I wanted to use a copy of, say, a contemporary edition of Homer's Odyssey (transl. Robert Fagles) in a flyer because I like the book's stylish cover?  Is it okay to use an image of a current book that way, so long as you created the image yourself (and didn't take it from a Penguin Books ad), or would that be infringement?

Similarly, what if you wanted to use an image of a clearly "branded" guitar -- Stonebridge, Taylor, Martin, or whatever -- in a flyer you're putting out?  Is that acceptable so long as you have created the image yourself, or would you need permission to do include the image because the brand is visible on the guitar?  I'm guessing it isn't a problem, but would love to hear an expert opinion.

Many thanks for your insight.
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Tobmapsatonmi

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"My question concerns whether it's okay to use one's own image of a book cover on a flyer or other ad material when that book is still in copyright."

I don't think the book's copyright matters here.  What matters is to what extent there is copyright in the design or artwork of the book cover. 

And so far as I know, if it is still under copyright, then taking your own photo/image of that cover does not protect you against claims of copyright infringement.

Not too sure on the guitar example.  You could be argued to imply that the brand-owner is endorsing the service you're hawking with the flyer.  I don't think the fact that you took the photo yourself is what is important here, but would welcome other thoughts challenging this.
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MYK

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I'm not sure if OP is asking about advertising those products for sale, or advertising something about himself using those products as examples.

It's generally fine to show an image of a product that you're selling.  Trying to link yourself to someone else's product is a different matter.
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Tobmapsatonmi

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I'm not sure if OP is asking about advertising those products for sale, or advertising something about himself using those products as examples.


Ah, yeah, good point.  I didn't recognize that might be what s/he meant.  Hopefully will return and let us know what's up.
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writingdino

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Thanks to both commenters.  The situation I'm describing isn't that I'm selling products and including an image of them; rather, it's that I have a private tutoring business and want to include a photo of some books from my library, just as a prop that correlates to the kind of service I am offering.  I'm not selling the books, but rather my own labor.

From what I gather from you, it wouldn't be a great idea to use books whose cover art is still under copyright, which it probably would be if the books themselves are still protected.  If so, that's fine.  I have a number of antique books and currently have a photo of volumes whose latest publication date is 1920 (most go back to the nineteenth and even eighteenth centuries, and have beautifully "aged" covers), which I presume should therefore not cause any copyright problems.  It's an easy way to get around the problem I suspected with later materials.
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