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  11 November 2017
Originally Posted by darthviper107: That's the case of people trying to sell it, for example if you made artwork of a Disney property and tried to sell it there's probably a 50% chance they'd go after you, but if you're making artwork without selling it it's extremely unlikely---this isn't to say that you can use a copyright for anything as long as it's free but rather that artwork rarely has the issue, if you look at any website where people post work that they've done like Artstation or here then there's a massive amount of copyrighted content, including things like cars. If you're doing it for your portfolio the chances of there being an issue is extremely low.
There's a massive amount of copyrighted content at DeviantArt too.
  11 November 2017
Originally Posted by Tiles: Fanwork is tolerated, but not legal.
Under US copyright that's not entirely the case. Copyright law is essentially Civil law and doesn't prescribe specific legality or illegality to things like fanwork. What it does is prescribe a standard for the way that one party can establish copyright and protections over its own works, in the manner or extent it decides is best for itself within the standard.

The copyright owner, not a judicial party, is responsible for policing any copyright established or presumed through Civil court. What is "legal" is defined by what the copyright owner releases or reserves. Things such as fair-use are restrictions on the copyright owner that prohibit excessive or frivolous copyright enforcement for things deemed reasonable access, typically guaranteeing access for the press and education, but it is not necessarily blanket permissions for the user.

It is true that fanwork is tolerated. It is basically an "at risk" activity which is quite proliferous and even taxed. Anyone producing and selling fanwork at a comicon in a large city is typically taxed on all their reported proceeds. The industry knows and selectively tolerates it to a point, but this tolerance is no guarantee that you won't be sued for infringement. But at the same it is an insane level of free promotion received by copyright owners and is a hotbed for talent scouting.

The bottom line is that creating fanwork of copyrighted material contains risk but any legal responsibilities for policing the copyright are the responsibility of the copyright owner not the government.

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