RE: copyrghts in famous painting

From: Webb, Jere <JMWEBB[_at_]>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 17:20:00 -0500

Client buys famous painting covered by the 1909 act. The painting was probably a work made for hire. It was hung in a private residence for years and later in a museum. It was widely copied and distributed in the form of posters, photographs, post cards, etc. It was not ever registered, no evidence of copyright notice on reproductions. I am trying to analyze who owns the copyrights. This artist made his living selling paintings, so it doesn't make sense to me that he or whomever commissioned the work let the copyrights slip out the door by not affixing appropriate copyright notices upon publication.

There must be something I am missing here. Is there an argument that taking a photograph of the work and distributing it is not a publication of painting? If widely published without notice, the copyrights went out the window. If not published, we are, I believe, into a morass of common law copyright under state law, with a split in authority as to whether copyrights transfer with a painting and as what constitutes publication of a painting where displayed in a museum or otherwise. Thoughts? Received on Thu Jan 19 2006 - 03:20:00 GMT

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