Copyright information for artists

Are you an artist interested in posting your images online? Are you concerned about them being used without your permission? Here’s what you need to know:

In the U.S., since 1989, copyright is implicit based on the Berne copyright convention. Whenever you create anything independently and/or privately, you retain ownership of those materials along with the copyright. You are not even required to put a copyright declaration on your site – but to make others aware of the law,  you should.  An adequate notice is this:  “Copyright (year) by (your name or company)”.  “All rights reserved” is no longer necessary.  Additional information specifically on copyrighting images is found at The Artists Right Society including this:

How Long Is a Work Copyright-Protected in the United States?

Works created on or after January 1, 1978: A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is given a term of copyright protection enduring for the lifetime of the artist plus an additional 70 years after the artist’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more artists who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving artist’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the artist’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

  1. You can read the complete copyright act for the U.S. HERE
  2. Information about the protection of original designs is available HERE
  3. Fill out a copyright form and register your ownership  HERE
  4. The only exception to ownership by copyright is called “fair use” and information is available HERE.
  5. And GREAT information on the topic, entitled “10 Big Myths about Copyright” by Brad Templeton is located  HERE including this quote:

“…today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. For example, in the USA, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not.”

If you’d like to watermark your images, you can do that through a WordPress widget, or through sites like THIS

Finally, do buyers of your work also buy the rights to reproduction?  According to The Artists Rights Society, the answer is an emphatic, “NO”

Do U.S. Owners of Works of Art Also Control the Copyrights?

The claim is sometimes made by proprietors of works of art in the U.S. that ownership of a physical work of art also carries with it ownership of the copyright. This is quite simply a false and misleading assumption.

…Whenever a work of fine art is sold or otherwise transferred by or on behalf of the artist who created it, or his heirs or personal representatives, the right of reproduction thereof is reserved to the grantor until it passes into the public domain by act or operation of law unless such right is sooner expressly transferred by an instrument, note or memorandum in writing signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or his duly authorized agent. (Section 224, Article 12-E, 1966 New York General Business Law)


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One Response to “Copyright information for artists”

  1. Protecting Your Images Online | Mountain Brook Art Association Says:

    […] on his website regarding the Use of Images.    And he shared this information regarding  Copyright Information for Artists.   While it’s not legally necessary to protect your work, remember that it’s wise to […]

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