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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Websites selling art reproductions

 4:11 am on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have knowledge on the laws around selling oil painting reproductions of famous artists? I am looking to start my own website selling art reproductions but i'm confused about the legality surrounding such images.

I have found many suppliers in China and the UK that produce repros of Picasso, Dali and others whose works are not yet in the public domain. I've also seen many listings on eBay for similar pieces.

Can anyone really clarify if it's legal or not?

As an alternative can you slightly alter the reproduction so it is not an exact replica?


And what if you alter the paing



 2:36 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know about reproductions, but I would rather doubt that you could, willy-nilly, sell reproductions of whatever you like, especially if the originals are copyrighted, as your reproductions could be viewed (legally) as "derivative" works.

And my gut instinct is that, if you're "tweaking" the images "to make them my own", this will work in the favor of the original copyright owner: your tweaking could be viewed as evidence that you knew your works were derivative and infringing.

Yes, people do sell reproductions. But are they licensed producers of such? Or are they second-hand sellers of legally-produced licensed goods? And "sales" is different from "production and sales". I could sell you the print off my wall without violating anybody's copyright. But making and selling copies of that print would, I think, be quite a different matter.


Naturally, you'll want to consult with a copyright attorney for iron-clad specifics.


 3:04 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

If someone reproduces a painting that is still under copyright without permission, and alters it with the goal of making it no longer be an exact replica so that they don't need permission, they would have to alter it so much that no one would want to buy it, IMO.


 3:59 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have to ask, then you already know it is wrong...


 7:25 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I set up a site selling these way back. Didnt really work and yes its a breach of copyright, if your not careful.


 8:16 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Slightly off topic, but sort of relevant.

We met a lady who was immensly talented at art, who specialised in producing oils of rockstars. Fabulous though they were, they were exact facsimilies of photographs, and what she was doing was a breach of copyright. Changing the delivery format doesn't stop it being a breach.

Sadly, although she was able to paint a perfect copy in oils of someone elses photo, she couldn't put on canvas something she saw in her head, if that makes sense.

Back on topic, if the reproductions are copies of copyrighted paintings, or for that matter, copies of photographs, it's a no-no.


 8:26 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

From what I've read, reproductions are legal as long as they are out of copyright (which, I believe, is 70 years after the death of the artist). Look-up the laws for your country online.


 9:09 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone.

Sounds pretty much like I thought: If you thinkg it's wrong, it's wrong.

So all these ebay listings using the term "aft" in their listings, and all these websites selling Dali, Picasso repros on canvas are breaking the law.

I'm surprises ebay doesn't pull the listing. They seem to be pretty dilligent about respecting copyrights.


 9:11 pm on Jan 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I should add that my plan is to purchase the art from a supplier in Asia and sell the art here in the US and Canada. I can't changed the item, but i can request that the artist does


 4:53 pm on Jan 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Aha, I knew I had this somewhere...




 11:18 pm on Jan 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

So all these ebay listings using the term "aft" in their listings, and all these websites selling Dali, Picasso repros on canvas are breaking the law.

Not necessarily, they may be affiliates who are licenced to supply kosher copies by the copyright holder, but there again... ;)


 11:26 pm on Jan 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've always assumed the big sites, such as art.com, have been licensed or otherwise given permission to sell the reproductions. Have I been naive in that? The large sites would have a hard time flying under the radar.

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