Say I would like to sell hand framed art prints, for decorations, on e.g. ebay.

I have some example posters and so on, mainly modern art works from various modern art gallery's, often in the form of posters I have mocked up myself, with added text. It won't be recent works, mainly things like Picasso or David Hockney.

What is the copyright situation? Do I need to pay someone if a customer buys a print?

  • Picasso died 1973, his works only started to drip into Public domain in the US since 2019, but the most known ones of his late work will still be under copyright some more years - and depending on how UK law is written some or all of his works might still be under copyright till 2043 (death + 70).
    – Trish
    Sep 22 '20 at 17:48
  • So there are public domain prints I could legally do this for?
    – apkg
    Sep 22 '20 at 18:01
  • 1
    no, there might be Public domain paintings. The derivate print might still be under copyright.
    – Trish
    Sep 22 '20 at 19:45
  • @Trish there are public domain prints, too, but they're likely to be very fragile because of their age.
    – phoog
    Sep 23 '20 at 14:54
  • Basically can I print out a picture of a Monet and sell it framed?
    – apkg
    Sep 23 '20 at 15:02

You need permission from the copyright holder(s) to make the prints at all unless it falls under some fair use doctrine or is a work in Public Domain. If permission is granted, it would presumably involve you paying money on some negotiated basis.

An artist might flatly refuse to give permission to your plan to use their art as a component of your art.

  • 2
    Assuming it was produced with the copyright owner's OK, it is fine. The the doctrine of "first sale" says that once copied legitimately the rights of the copyright holder to further control that copy are gone. You can do whatever you like with that physical thing including printing your own commentary on it and selling it. Sep 22 '20 at 17:55
  • 1
    What if someone says they had the right to print, donated to me in a jumble sale, then I sell it on eBay? Who is breaking the law?
    – apkg
    Sep 22 '20 at 17:57
  • 1
    I'm not sure you will find the loop hole you desire. Sep 22 '20 at 17:59
  • 1
    Copyright is about controlling the ability of others to copy. My mention of loophole was not to suggest there was one, other than "fair use". Sep 22 '20 at 18:08
  • 2
    @apkg no. Let's saddle the horse the other way: You buy a poster from a license holder. That's the first sale. Now you can do anything you want with your poster, for example frame it and resell it.
    – Trish
    Sep 22 '20 at 19:47

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