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Author Topic: copyright of portraits and great artists  (Read 700 times)


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on: February 16, 2015, 04:08:49 AM
I just remember something about copyright laws.  The artist always retain the copyright of his art, except for commissioned portrait where the copyright is automatically transferred to the commissioner, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

That is pretty clear.

I have no concern about my work which are all student studies, but my daughter is an artist and for some of her work I am never sure who has copyright. For e.g. she made some great painting of copying the great master, but with a real twist!   Meaning one could definitively see the influence, but would definitively not confuse it with the original.  We have passes 2 sales because we air on the conservative side.

I also understand that while the copyright of the great artists may have expired, some museum may claim the copyright of a painting in their possession.  So, for e.g. say Monet is expired, but a Museum has a Monet... then  that specific painting may be copyright. 

Also one could copy a great artist, but only from one own photograph of the original painting (and not from say a photo found in a book).  E.g. van Gogh has expired copyright... but I could only make a painting based on my own photo.

What is not clear to me is where in the World the law applies... these are US LAWS and I know MOST apply in Canada with slight differences... E.G. our copyright last 70y, the US 50y (or maybe it is the opposite, don't quote me!).  But is it the country where the painting was created, or where it resides that count?  Or more likely... this is all murky, and a Court test case is needed first to create a precedent...

p.s. and yes, I read the posts on SA copyright laws posted by Dennis in2010
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 04:14:06 AM by Annie. »


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Reply #1 on: February 16, 2015, 08:15:46 PM
As far as I know if the copyright has expired, then it is free game. You can use any photo of that artwork. It doesn't matter who owns the artwork, etc. Copyright belongs to the creator of the artwork unless that copyright was passed on to another person in writing.

The main thing you need to check for each artwork is to which country did the artist belong and how long is the copyright valid in that country. Where you live is irrelevant.