Suppose I want to draw a horse. I don't know how to draw a horse so I buy a How to Draw Animals book and follow the instructions of the book to draw a horse. Now can I use my drawing for commercial purposes?

1 Answer 1


The book teaches you how to draw horses. Once you learned how to do it, and you draw a really nice horse, you have drawn it yourself. You have the copyright. You use it any way you like.

Of course it's different if instead of drawing the horse yourself you just make a copy of an image in the book. That would be the author's copyrighted drawing.

Added since the question reappeared: One way to learn drawing horses is to start by making copies by hand of others' good drawings, practicing, practicing more, until eventually you can draw your own horses, which was the purpose of the book. So these copies made as part of the learning process might be treated differently. And the might not actually be copies, just your best attempt at making a copy.

On the other hand, taking this book, making ten copies using a scanner, framing and selling them, is obvious copyright infringement.

  • I would add that copying the author's copyrighted drawing for the purpose of learning how to draw pursuant to the book's instructional program is almost surely fair use.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 15, 2017 at 2:09
  • @ohwilleke Couldn't you also argue that since the point of the book is teaching you to draw, the author implicitly granted you a license for that purpose?
    – cpast
    Jul 15, 2017 at 2:17
  • @cpast Absolutely. The line between fair use and implied license is a fuzzy one at times. But, since the law of implied license is less well developed in the case law than fair use, it is often easier to argue persuasively the issue of fair use in the gray areas where they overlap.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 15, 2017 at 2:19

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