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in Greek: εικωνογραφια or εικονογραφια?

o-mega or o-micron?

Omega. Check your lexicon.  :) --Rdr. Andrew 11:19, 11 Mar 2005 (CST)


Question. How is the copyright of an icon determined? Some of the icons are basically reproductions of ancient icons. I'm sure that those icons are governed by other national or international laws or public domain. I have noticed that some icons are copyrighted by a particular church, but why wouldn't they be copyright the iconographer. Can someone explain this?

Incidentally, I have noticed that the OCA has a number of icons. We have used them here. Recently I sent an e-mail to the OCA regarding a particular icon. I cannot find this icon for sale anywhere and wondered if they knew where it came from. They didn't know where the icon came from and believed that the icon was possibly made at the Sofrino workshops outside of Moscow.

I was told that I could always save the icon and print out a copy for framing or laminating. Is this not some kind of copyright violation or does it qualify as fair use? I know that this is an extremely common practice.

They also said that the icons they display come from parish churches, files sent by readers, books, and catalogues. If they don't know where they get the pictures from is that not a copyright problem?

Joe 22 Dec 2005 13:26

Re: Icons and Copyright

Hi Joe,

I don't claim to be an expert in this, but my impression is that icons are not copyrighted (legally, I suppose the copyright would default to the author, but ecclesiologically speaking I can't imagine this) -- but the images, photos, reprints, etc. of icons are. This is all the more the case with the ancient icons.

I think printing out a copy for personal use would definitely fall under fair use whatever the case. I can't imagine that anyone would want to stop you from that, especially if you can't buy a copy. But, for example, it wouldn't be fair to copy all of HTM's icons to your own site, because this is their livelihood. I think a lot of copyrigt law is just common sense -- although some of it can be counterintuitive... and here, with icons, were balancing an ecclesiastical culture with a certain attitude of free use (for those who use them appropriately) or corporate ownership (i.e. God and the Church). This is certainly an interesting question. I suppose there have been articles written in legal journals on similar issues. Maybe a lawyer can help us (though this is more a curiosity than an issue I'm bruningly concerned about).

As far as is concerned, I think that as long as we have their permission to use an image from their site, I'm comfortable just citing the source. If in doubt too, we could always put "unverified" on it.

May others would want to chime in here too. Yours, — FrJohn (talk)

RE:RE: Icons and Copywright

Actually I do know several iconographers who have copyrights to their images. It is best to check and see if you can locate the writer if he or she is a modern one and ask permission. I don't mind people using my work for chuch bulletins and so forth. But if a person or a church is trying to make money off of reproductions of a living iconographers work, then you have a problem. It's not that iconographers mind the work being used for prayer and such, but if other people are attempting to make money of what you are doing, it can make a hard life even harder. That is why a lot of modern iconographers do copyright their images. It is a careful balance of doing work for the glory of God, but having to make a living off of it (which is difficult}. All icons are built upon the work of God essentially and the best icons are still sums of all the previous writers. I don't think copyrighted the image is a way of negating this. But in modern times when someone can photocopy your work so easily, and try to profit from it, you have to ask whether they are trying to spread icons, or trying to make money off of it even though they didn't do any work. Supporting the current icon writers by buying an icon from them or one of their reproductions ensures that we will continue to have people willing and able to make icons.