Artwork Copyright Question

edited April 2010 in General Discussion
I had wanted to use some late 19th and earth 20th century fantasy art to add flavor to my campaign wiki, but am concerned with copyright infringement. Does anyone know how many years old a work of art has to be before its image enters the public domain?


  • JimTriche
    Posts: 483
    If nobody renews a copyright, it's not long at all.

    In any case, Fair Use might be allowed.

    I would go ahead and do what you want as far as artwork, provided you don't make profit on it you should be OK. I won't right out say it's legal, but I'm 99% sure you won't be contacted by anyone. On the other 1%, if someone does own a copyright and they don't want you to use it, most of the time they'll send notice, a cease and desist order at the least, that will give you a time frame to remove the images. You really shouldn't have any issues though.
  • gnunn
    Posts: 423
    Copywright law is an EXTREMELY complex and tangled web of issues, especially in the digital age. It raises questions such as, is a digital image of a painting the same as the painting? Does it belong to the artist who made the painting? The person who made the image of the painting? nobody? everybody?

    Of course the most ethical thing to do is to only use your original art... but I think that as long as you exercise a bit of courtesy and respect towards people's intellectual property, you should be okay. Especially since you are not making money off of the images or attempting to claim them as your own.

    You could approach things like you would a paper for school and include source notes at the bottom of each page, or at least link to the webpage where you got the image.

    You could also use public domain image sites like...
    * "": or
    * "Wikimedia Commons":

    which operate under the Creative Commons license.

    Or you could ask permission directly, provided you know who to ask.

    I suspect you might find some of the 19th century fantasy art, if not the 20th century pieces in one of the Creative Commons sites above.

    Above all, if someone asks you to remove an image they own, respect their wishes.

    Of course, this is just my opinion and the mods might feel a little more strictly about such things.
  • Spica
    Posts: 3
    Thanks for the explanation, I'll give Wikimedia Commons and a look see.
  • Dra8er
    Posts: 30
    Quick addition to this, basically if your not going to profit from it, you can use it. I have extensive background in this department actually, and you've a better chance of being struck by lightning than being sued by someone if your not profiting from it, and an even better chance of winning the lottery that they'd actually win that case.

    Worst case scenario, they'd send you an email asking you to take the image down!!!
  • Hardhead
    Posts: 65 edited May 2010
    Anything from the 19th and 20th century up to the 20's is fair game in the US, even if you are making a profit from it. For most other works, using bits to make your own usually falls under Fair Use if you're not going to be making any money.

    I also want to specifically disagree with one thing:

    bq. Of course the most ethical thing to do is to only use your original art
    Post edited by Hardhead on
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