I'm the author of a realistic 3D animated fiction which has a scene inspired by a photograph. When I saw that picture, I liked the fact that the person in it matches perfectly a character from my work, and I liked the idea of putting the character in the exact situation shown in the picture.

Everything in it is reproduced in the animated scene, except the background/location, although in my work it is an equivalent place matching the story's setting, but everything else (the person's position, expression, clothes, appearance, the spot where the person is and how, etc.) are exactly the same.

It's just one single scene, although the character has some permanent traits taken from the picture, such as the eye color.

So my question is: would that be considered any kind of plagiarism or copyright/royalty/license infringement? If the scene is recreated absolutely exactly like in the picture and a whole work is created derivatively from that, would it (also?) be?

1 Answer 1


Your animation is a derivative work if it copied the photograph. In general this is copyright violation.

It is not copyright violation if:

  • your work is inspired by but doesn’t copy the original
  • it is sufficiently transformative (if it uses a source work in completely new or unexpected ways). Just being an animated movie is not enough- it must tell a story the photograph doesn’t.
  • What is the basis for the transformative exemption? If I copy a digital work, but encrypt the bytes with a private key, that is transforming it an it in an unexpected way. But I have still copied the work and infringed on its copyright.
    – Brandin
    Nov 5, 2017 at 13:40
  • The transformation must be artistic @Brandin and substantial
    – Dale M
    Nov 5, 2017 at 18:47

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