Sunday 18 November 2012

Copyright Issues: Who owns the copyright to a painting?

Let's leave aside the copyright issues that might be involved in making a painting (I touched upon those in a previous post concerning map data); what about the painting itself? (And let's simplify matters even further by only considering the UK.)

If an artist sells a painting, who owns the copyright?

The artist does.

I was under the incorrect impression that the copyright went with the physical painting; for this reason, I was agonising over printing copies of sold work in books or on cards, particularly in cases where I didn't know the purchaser personally. Turns out I didn't need to worry - although it does seem courteous to inform the owner of a work if a print is to be issued.

There are exceptions; copyright can be transferred by agreement, and employers own the copyright for work done under their employ. This doesn't include freelance work or commissions, though.

Reference: The UK Copyright Service

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