View Full Version : copywrite of sold paintings?
03-29-2002, 02:16 PM
I am sure these issues hae been discussed befor, but I can't find an answer to my quetions, so I'll go ahead and post them.
1) I own some artwork from a deceased artist that I cannot trace. Do I own the copywrite to any reproduction of this work? for example if someone wanted to include a picture in a book, can I sell, or give the image to them? Not that I would, but could I make prints of these paintings and sell them?
2)When I sell a painting, Do I still retain the right to sell the use of it's image for publication, or printing? and more importantly, can the buyer of that painting make prints from it and sell them?
If not, then when can they?? at some point does the image become public domain?
Thanks in advance.
Answers, according to my understanding:
1) No, you have no rights to copy, reproduce, alter, make derivative works or otherwise duplicate or profit from another's creation simply by possessing it. The copyright remains with the artist or his heirs. Refer any requests to them.
2) Copyrights are separate from the artwork and remain with the creator unless transferred in a contract signed by both parties. Limited rights can be assigned by the artist for specific uses and time periods, with or without compensation. The buyer has no copyrights that have not been given by the artist via a contract.
Copyrights do expire after a very long time. Depending on when the work was created, it could be 50 or 75 years after the artists death. However, heirs can sometimes renew copyrights depending on how the work was passed along. Works who's copyright period has expired, and has not been extended pass into the public domain, which of course have their own rules.
03-29-2002, 09:20 PM
I have 4 paintings that are over 50-70 years old and the artists are deceased, I am continueing to add to my collection from time to time, mostly 1900-1960 modern art. So the public domain issue is of interest to me. I would never dream of making prints or anything, but If the opportunity to include them in a book came up, I would be interested if it is legally allowed. I could easily see them being of interest in publication.
The 50-75 year count begins when the artist dies; not when the work is created. If the works you have in your possession are 50-75 years old you could still have 50 or more years to wait before the copyright ends.
When you are ready for such a project, I stongly suggest you consult with an attorney that deals with these issues. The publisher of your book would likely follow the law. However, you should certainly protect yourself from any possible violation.
03-29-2002, 10:39 PM
Thanks for the good advice. No, I won't be undertaking anything like that myself, but some of my collection is of early Haitian art, by a somewhat important artist, who is published and collected. I could see it being of cultural and national interest to someone. Some of his works are already in books, and the 3 I own are substancial peices.
Thanks for the help.
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