ccopyright - A pillar of art law: the legal right granted to a creator, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of an artistic, literary, theatrical, or musical work. Often signified by the mark ©, the year declared, and the name of the owner.

Copyright regulations are based upon the French notion of droit moral.

The past tense is copyrighted (not "copywritten").


 This article is not written by an intellectual property attorney. The information presented here is merely drawn from informal readings on the subject of the copyright of visual art.

opyright of visual art - Under the Berne Convention, each and every work of art is either a copyrighted work or one in "the public domain." If the artist is alive or has been dead less than seventy years, all rights to reproductions of his or her work reside with the artist or with the artist's estate.

The Fair Use Provision of the Copyright Act states:

§107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2 . the nature of the copyrighted work;
3 . the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
4 . the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Public Domain:
When an artist has been dead more than seventy years, his or her work is in the public domain. Reproduction rights are then concerned with rights held by those who have produced photographs of the works (in other words, if you took a snapshot of a public domain work yourself, you could do anything you want with it). Normally, museums have commissioned photographs of their works and thus hold the rights to these photographs to be used in reproduction. So, a first step here would be to contact the museum where the work is held.



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Also see ArtLex's copyright policy statement, as well as allusion, analogy, appropriation, copy, counterfeit, ersatz, facsimile, fake, forgery, likeness, logo, mirror, plagiarism, replica, representation, reproduction, simile, simulacrum, simulation, and trademark (®).





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