Copyright is complicated and we advise clients who are unsure to seek specialist advice from intellectual property experts. To help our clients the following statements may be helpful.
Copyright in works of art generally exists during the artist's lifetime and for 70 years thereafter, i.e. if an artist died in 1960, copyright will expire at the end of December 2030 (70 years) and will then be known as a public domain item.
However, during the artist`s lifetime or during the 70 years after his or her death, the copyright may have been transferred to a third party who is often unknown. Additionally, the copyright holder may have granted an exclusive licence for certain purposes or products to a third party who may also be unknown.
We ask every client supplying us with artwork to either scan or print to confirm that they own either the copyright or have a legal licence for such reproduction to take place.
We are a member of the Art Copyright Coalition based in Washington DC and we take our responsibilities to protect copyright very seriously.
Additionally, there may be personality rights associated with the subject matter and if any work is figurative and recognisable, we also seek confirmation that personality rights have been taken into consideration.
We will do our best to give any general advice on these matters, but we will always stress that we are not legally qualified and if in doubt, advise clients to take independent advice from an intellectual property specialist.