Justin Levine has an interesting blog post up about a book I hadn't heard of, called The Monster Engine
. The author, Dave Devries, took children's drawings of monsters, and turned them into paintings
that use the identical line structure of the kid's drawings (he projects them on the wall and then draws over them). Apparently, Devries' work is quite popular, and people have talked about it on the internet for years:
Seems pretty cool. But Levine is wondering about the copyright issues
involved in all of this:
Given the fact that:
Do you believe that Devries should be forced to get formal copyright releases from each and every one of the kids in question? Do you think he has done so? If so, should they be able to repudiate their copyright agreement when they turn 18 since many jurisdictions allow minors to repudiate contracts signed before they reach 18? If so, should they be able to take Devries's work out of circulation?
- There is no doubt that the children's original doodles are protected by copyright for their entire life, plus 70 additional years.
- There is no doubt that Devries' paintings of the doodles are 'derivative works' stemming from the original creations of the children.
Do you think that the children should all share in the royalties from books, art and showcases that Devries produces for the rest of their lives (and beyond - for 7 decades)? Do you think that is in fact the case of what is going on? If Devries hasn't gotten a copyright release and/or isn't paying royalties, do you feel that he is somehow "exploiting" these kids or "stealing" from them?
These are pretty serious questions -- because under copyright law today, this book is trouble, and that's unfortunate, because it looks like a lovely book. My guess would be that Devries actually had to get permission from the parents, but do parents have the right to sign away the copyright on a child's work? And do those children then have the right to terminate that agreement at a later date? Perhaps people think the likelihood of kids later terminating the agreement is quite low -- and maybe they're right. But what would happen if a kid no longer wanted to be associated with that artwork?