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Subject: what artists are public domain, if any? rss

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aristides mytaras
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hello all.
I've been wondering, could one use michaelangelo's art in a game, to market and sell? is there copyright on such a thing or is it considered public domain? I see DaVinci's name used everywhere, there's probably no problem there, but no games feature his art that I know of. Does somebody own the rights?
I'm sure picasso would be out, but what about older artists (rennesance etc)?
any info on the subjuct would be greatly appreciated..

thanks in advance.
aristides.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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You would have to track down the current estate holders. The art is usually protected from various uses.
 
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CHAPEL
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A site I found, maybe useful:

http://ee.1asphost.com/graphics1/pd/artists.html
 
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Scott A. Reed
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I might be able to give you an answer on this in the spring, after I take 'Law and the Arts'
 
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Ryan Hackel
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On a related note, are there any good websites out there that house or collect public domain images? I'd love to have a bank of such to use as placeholder art for my game design experiments.
 
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John Lopez
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I found these comments at: http://www.geekphilosopher.com/MainPage/bkgAbout.htm

"Generally, the copyright has expired on materials created before 1923."

and

"Expired works of art have an additional caveat. When someone produces a photo that is indistinguishable from other photographs of the same work, the photo is not considered an original art creation. Therefore, the photographer does not hold any copyright on the photo itself"

I have seen that "restored" photographs have had some effort made to create a new copyright for the restored work. Thus if someone takes a photo of a 1500s painting and simply has it fully framed with nothing but the painting, there is no additional copyright created. (The work does not meet the requirement for being "a minimally creative" new work). Such a photograph which was then edited to remove flaking of the paint *might* have a valid copyright (as far as I can tell, this has not been settled fully in the courts).

I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice, just a few interesting things I have picked up on the Internet. If you accept this as legal advice, you are on your own when they come for you.
 
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Sarcophilus Harrisii

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Any artist who died before 1923 should be safe to use in the US. Other countries might vary. There is a bit of a gray area though that comes down to interpretation of the law. The photograph of the artwork might still be under copyright. This is almost impossible to prove unless only one photographer photographed the piece.

http://www.artrenewal.org/ is a good site for classic art. Most photos max out at screen size but some are hi-res and will enlarge to poster size. One word of caution though, if you have any appreciation of modern art say away from their politics sections, it will just piss you off.
 
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Sarcophilus Harrisii

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Quote:
I believe copyright is based on who owns the particular work, not the author or artist, necessarily.


This is almost universally wrong. If you buy someone's artwork you do not get the copyright unless it was specified in the sale. Most artists will charge considerably more for copyright to a piece. Especially these days where the artist can sell inkjet prints long after the original piece has been sold.
 
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aristides mytaras
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thank you all for your replies.

I have found the following, here: http://www.colorado.edu/copyright/fairuse/student.html

Generally, a work of art enters the public domain when the copyright has expired. This is many years after the artist’s death (roughly 50 years in the USA and 75 years in Europe). However, just because an artist has been dead for many years doesn't automatically mean that his or her work is out of copyright; it may still be owned by a gallery or the artist's estate. Similarly, a printed or digital reproduction of a work in the public domain may be copyrighted by a publisher.

“A work in the public domain has no copyright and can be freely copied by anyone.”

Many works of art from the distant past, such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Michaelangelo’s “David,” or Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” are now in the public domain. However, a photographer or an art stock firm may hold the copyright on a specific photo of one of these works. In the case of a sculpture such as “David,” the photographer may be able to prove copyright infringement.

...my apologies for my spelling of "renaissance" at the beginning of this post. sorry for any eye-popping experiences.
 
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John Lopez
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As an interesting aside, what you have found would seem to correspond with what I did as well. However, the museums I have been to ban photography: I don't even bothering to carry a camera. Meanwhile, the photographs published in an art book carry a fresh copyright. So these works are in the "public domain" yet they remain unavailable in fact.

Even more bizarre, the Eiffel tower is illegal to photograph at night, as the "light show" is a new work according to French law. You have to love how the public domain keeps getting workarounds.
 
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aristides mytaras
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I wonder if a hi-volume printing company has to prove that copyright permissions are attained (be it from photographers or otherwise) in order to print.

In the cd publishing business, at least in greece, a cd pressing company needs written permissions from songwriters, composers etc etc or a properly signed statement that everything is ok. Otherwise they will not go on with the printing.

What I am saying is, you may have a picture of mona lisa and publish a puzzle of it. Are you required to reveal your source? (of the picture)
Maybe I sneaked a camera in the Louvre and they didnt catch me. What are they going to do, charge me with smoking?
Just wondering...

I have been working on a prototype game and the art I am using is so beautiful, that it elevates the whole experience. I'm just wondering how far I can go with it..

 
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mrbass
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http://www.wga.hu/

The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 15.400 reproductions. Commentaries on pictures, biographies of artists are available. Guided tours, free postcard and other services are provided for the visitors.
 
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John Lopez
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mrbass wrote:
http://www.wga.hu/

The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 15.400 reproductions. Commentaries on pictures, biographies of artists are available. Guided tours, free postcard and other services are provided for the visitors.


From the site:
Quote:
The Web Gallery of Art is copyrighted as a database. Images and documents downloaded from this database can only be used for educational and personal purposes. Distribution of the images in any form is prohibited without the authorization of their legal owner.


The concept of database copyright is a still fuzzy one that is not well tested in the law, but recent rulings have been going in the direction of allowing pretty much any compilation to gain a new "right" beyond those granted by copyright itself (which only pertains to "creative works").

Again, IANAL, but I pay attention to copyright issues closely. The idea here is that someone can put a bunch of public domain images up (the period covered is clearly in the public domain) and then say "but you can't actually use these, because I have a *new* copyright". However, the courts so far seem to only find infringement when the work is reproduced as another *collection* (under the theory of unfair competition), not if a work is drawn from a database and used for "ordinary purposes".

Of course, I give the lawyers a few more years to "fix" that loophole too. Eventually the public domain will be fenced off so effectively that it won't exist for any practical purpose.
 
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mrbass
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Well I don't care because I used really old images for a card game so if Leonardo or whoever painted them wants to wake up from the dead wants to sue me then so be it daggummit.
 
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Tim Franklin
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Godeke wrote:

Of course, I give the lawyers a few more years to "fix" that loophole too. Eventually the public domain will be fenced off so effectively that it won't exist for any practical purpose.


It's largely a legacy concept already, IMO. Nothing currently in copyright will ever enter the public domain, the Mouse's legal team will see to that. Only works that the creator has deliberately renounced copyright on and placed in the public domain while still alive will join the pool.
 
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David Namaksy
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I am not an attorney and this is in no way legal advice.

But back when I made computer games for a living this is what our attorney said to us on this issue. I am generalizing a bit here.

If I found something in a book or on the Internet that was an image of a public domain piece of art. Roughly anything over 75 years from the death of the artist. Do not use it. Reason was that while the art work itself is in the public domain or free use area that, that image of the art work may not. The person or entity that created that photo or image held the copyright on that particular photo or image. If we did want to use that image it would be best to either contact the creator of the image / photo to get the rights to that image / photo, find a clearly public domain image / photo of the art work, or go take the a new image / photo ourselves of the art work.

The example he used that made it clear for me was a piece of music. I could not take a recording of a piece of Mozart's music and use it. Because the musicians that played the piece had a copyright on that performance. But if I wanted to play the piece myself and use it I could.

It is always best, as mentioned earlier, to contact an Intellectual property attorney to find out what is the best course of action for your situation.
 
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