Displaying posters in public spaces rather than just at home

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Displaying posters in public spaces rather than just at home

Post by museumvic »


I realise that this sounds like a stupid question, but when you buy an official licensed/copyrighted poster of an artwork from a museum or gallery (or even an exhibition poster) to frame and hang on your wall, is it okay to display it in a public building?

For instance, I bought a mass-produced poster as a visitor from an exhibition which has the owner/copyright holder info on it, and obviously part of the cost of the poster included the fee to the copyright holder.

Could I now put it on display in a gallery alongside other actual works of art by the same artist which I do have permission to display to show the breadth of their work? (It is a free-to-visit exhibition)

Thanks in advance for your guidance - copyright is a nightmare!

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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Vicky,
As you own the poster and you are not intending to copy it when you display it, that use is covered by the so-called exhaustion of rights doctrine, meaning that the copyright owner no longer has any distribution or publication rights over the work which you bought. What's more the UK IPO has recently issued guidance on this particular issue, clarifying that displaying a work in public as you have described, does not amount to an infringing act.
I hope this puts your mind at rest.
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
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