Copyright on paintings

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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rm108
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Copyright on paintings

Post by rm108 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:37 pm

Hi
I'm new to the forum - and my question is about copyright on original artworks. BTW I am UK based.

If I buy an original oil painting from a gallery do I then own the copyright? I notice that the gallery I recently purchased a painting from is using the image of the painting on the front of greeting cards. I also notice they continue to show an image of the painting on the internet.

Do I have any right to control over the uses I have described? And can I rightfully ask them to stop using the image?

Thank you for your advice on this query
rm

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:58 pm

Hi rm,
Unless copyright has been assigned in writing to you as the new owner of a physical painting, copyright remains with the artist. The gallery may have had permission from the artist to make use of images of it for the purposes of advertising it (although this is not always necessary - see section 63 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act) and for the use on the greetings card (which wouldn't be covered by s 63). Even if they didn't have permission, this a matter for the artist as copyright owner and not you as as the owner of the physical painting.

Assuming that copyright was not assigned (this would not be usual) then you have very limited rights. For instance you may not make copies of the painting without first gaining permission and you may not authorise any third party to make or issue copies of the work, so for instance you couldn't use it on your own greetings cards. However you may exhibit the original work to the public if you choose. If the painting is quite valuable or is likely to become so, you need to be aware of the Artist's Resale Right provisions, should you want to sell the painting at some future date.

You also need to be aware of the moral rights of the artist. The main one in this context is the right for his/her work not be treated in a derogatory manner. This can include wilful damage to it although arguably not the complete destruction of the work.

If the artist is still alive I suggest it would be sensible to make contact with him/her and establish a working relationship so that these matters can be sorted out in an amicable manner should that be necessary. If the artist is dead, try to establish when he/she died (as this determines the term of the copyright) and make contact with his/her heirs for much the same reasons. Remember that as you can control access to the painting, you have some bargaining power with the artist should he/she wish to exploit the rights he/she has retained.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

rm108
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Post by rm108 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:00 pm

many thanks Andy for a very helpful and full reply - apologies for my tardy acknowledgement.
rm

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