Copyright issues on a painting that was sold



  • My friend just sold an original painting. He wants to know how to protect the copy right? Or make sure it does want get reproduced. I told him i don’t know, but I know a ton of people who do.... anyone got a quick answer?



  • Standard caveat that I am not an IP attorney. For more accurate information please consult an IP attorney.

    The ownership of the copyright to an image and the ownership of the physical artwork are two separate things.

    When you license (parts) of your copyright to a client they have no claim to owning the original artwork. Conversely when you sell a physical piece of artwork the owners have no claim to your copyright in that image.

    So by virtue of current copyright law he does not need to do anything to protect his copyright to the artwork for his life plus 70 years. That said, should he ever need to defend his copyright in court it will need to be registered with the US Copyright office. Registration involves a fairly small fee and can be done online or though the mail. I would also send a letter to the artwork's new owners clearly stating that no copyright to the artwork has been transferred and that all reproduction rights remain with the original artist.



  • @davidhohn you’re the best. I knew there was a simple answer. Sorta simple. But since I’m not a IP lawyer either, ha, I didn’t want to tell him the wrong answer. And since I don’t sell anything to people I don’t know, I really don’t have any experience yet. The letter sounds like a good idea. Just to educate your buyer who may not have a clue as to what the protocol or the law is.

    Thanks so much for your input. I’ll let him know. If that practice is good enough for David Hohn, it’s plenty good enough for him. Thanks again!



  • A book I have found very helpful is Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick. Just in case David is not available.



  • @davidingalls thanks! I need to get that book for reference in the future! Thanks for the suggestion.