RE: Re: copyrghts in famous painting

From: Agenbroad, James \(Civ,ARL/CISD\) <jagenbro[_at_]arl.army.mil>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 11:15:30 -0500


LOTS of complicated issues here.
"Probably a WMFH"? Wasn't WMFH mostly based on caselaw under the 1909 act? That could be complex. And of course if it wasn't a WMFH, and there was no transfer of copyright than rights would still be with the artist or their Heirs and Assignees, not the purchaser. What counted as publication under the 1909 act is similarly complex, and would help to determine whether the work was published without notice. Might copyright have been restored if the artist was foreign?

Depending on the date, it wouldn't surprise me at all if nobody was keeping track of copyright status. Even professionals didn't used to worry as much about copyright as they do now. Pretty much the only thing that is clear is that purchase of the painting does not transfer any copyright to the purchaser without an agreement to that effect, although I suspect that there would be a strong implied license to publicly display it.

-----Original Message-----
From: CNI-COPYRIGHT -- Copyright & Intellectual Property [mailto:CNI-COPYRIGHT[_at_]cni.org] On Behalf Of Webb, Jere Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 5:20 PM To: CNI-COPYRIGHT -- Copyright & Intellectual Property Subject: [CNI-(C)] Re: copyrghts in famous painting

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?

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Received on Thu Jan 19 2006 - 21:15:30 GMT

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