I created a symbol based from a symbol I searched from the internet. It was a Celtic symbol. I revised it a little bit and put some colors in it. Considering that the symbol is already very old and I created my version of it from scratch, am I still subject to copyright laws?

1 Answer 1


Yes, copyright applies

First, AFAIK, the Celts did not have access to the internet or, if they did, their access speed was horrendously slow. Therefore what you found on the internet was not created by the Celts - it was a photograph or a drawing created by somebody else and probably is still under copyright (exceptions apply).

Let's assume that what you saw on the internet is a faithful representation of something that was actually created by the Celts before copyright existed and therefore the original object is public domain. If the thing you saw on the internet was, say, a photograph of a piece of Celtic jewelry and that jewelry had the symbol on it then the symbol would be public domain but the photograph isn't if it's composition required creativity.

Whether you have copyright in the image you created depends on if you met the threshold of creativity in your revisions and colors to create an artistic work.

  • 3
    I don't think a photo creates a de novo copyright on the original object, merely on the composition of the photo. If the symbol is based on the object, and not on the composition of the photo, then the Op's symbol is not a derivative work of the photo.
    – MSalters
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:21
  • 2
    @MSalters that’s what the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph says
    – Dale M
    Feb 28, 2020 at 22:02
  • The photo might not make a de-novo work, but the arrangement in the museum box could have made the piece a part of a larger artwork that has copyright on its own. E.g. if the piece is suspended in mid air in front of a velvet screen and an artificial tree branch, that could be an installation. Or the lightbox shows contemporary Clay Tablets from 10 places with the same style of writing, all on a map.
    – Trish
    Jul 22, 2021 at 8:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .