First, review Circular 40 at the US Copyright Office regarding work of visual art.
In this, it states
MORAL RIGHTS FOR VISUAL ARTISTS
"For certain one-of-a-kind visual art and numbered limited editions of
200 or fewer copies, authors are accorded rights of attribution and
integrity. The right of attribution ensures that artists are correctly
identified with the works of art they create and that they are not
identified with works created by others. The right of integrity allows
artists to protect their works against modifications and destructions
that are prejudicial to the artists? honor or reputation. These rights
may not be transferred by the author, but they may be waived in a
written instrument. Transfer of the physical copy of a work of visual
art or of the copyright does not affect the moral rights accorded to
The part "These rights may not be transferred by the author, but they
may be waived in a written instrument. Transfer of the physical copy
of a work of visual art or of the copyright does not affect the moral
rights accorded to the author."
If you have not waived your copyright to the owner of the painting,
then you should still retain all rights to reproductions. Next
question, did you *register* the copyright?
An original, creative work automatically has a copyright but
*registering* the copyright is the way to have full protection under
Following are more resources that will help explain what to do and not
to do with works of visual art.
Please read the article "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, REPRODUCTION RIGHTS,
AND YOUR CAREER" at http://www.artbusiness.com/reprosuit.html
Arts Law Australia
"Unless you specifically sell or give the copyrights away, you still
own them. And to do that you'd want to put it into writing. When I
sell a painting, I include a certificate of authenticity also. The
last statement is "artist retains all copyrights to this original
piece of art."
Please read the entire thread as it is basically the same your question.
"The word license means the "freedom to do something" So when you give
a company a license to use your art, that means you're giving then
the freedom or ability to use your art in a certain way, on a
certain type of produce, for a certain period of time, and with
certain restrictions on usage.
"Another key concept has to do with the difference between copy rights
and reproduction rights. While you own the copy right of your art for
75 years from the time you created it- whether or not you've
registered the copyright with the local copyright office-you also own
the reproduction rights. That means that no one can reproduce your art
without your OK."
The following three references are from
"Copyright is a collection of property rights based on a personís
creative skill and labour. The rights are protected in law ....
Copyright is owned by the artist (with specific exceptions) and comes
into existence from the moment a work is created. It allows the artist
to benefit from the use of their work in reproduction on paper, in
photographs, on film and video, and in digital form. Copyright only
exists in artworks that have material form - there is no copyright in
ideas .... Copyright usually exists for a period of 50 years after the
death of the artist ...."* quoted from:
"The owner of the artwork, if not the copyright holder, may not give
this permission." quoted from:
*(basically, buying a painting does not constitute that the copyright
becomes the province of the buyer)"
"Moral rights are the rights the artist retains over their work after
it is sold. These rights are guaranteed internationally by the Berne
Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In
Australia on 7 December 2000 a bill protecting the moral rights of an
artist's work was passed in parliament."
Bottom line: you own the copyright to your original work. For legal
protection, you need to *register* your copyright. Then, after
registering, you must place a proper copyright notice on your work or
in the papers referencing sales of your work.
Please remember that I am not an attorney therefore this answer does
not constitute legal advice. These resources will assist you and,
should you have questions on the fine points of copyright
infringement, please seek the counsel of a practicing attorney.
I hope this answers your question. Should you require clarification,
please request it and I'll be happy to respond.
PS A tip to save money on copyright fees is to copyright a collection
of work, say 10 paintings at once titled "Collection 3" - this way you
pay one fee of (currently) $30 for all ten in the collection as
opposed to $30 for each painting copyrighted separately.
When you cite the copyright, it would be referenced something like
"©2004 Artist Name, Collection 3" as opposed to the painting's name
like "©2004 by Artist Name." Proper wording of copyright notices is
also paramount to protecting your work and these guidelines are
available from the U.S. Copyright Office.
artist retains right to reproduce after selling painting
license to reproduce art
US copyright office visual art
OTHER RESOURCES THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST
International Copyright protection (or lack thereof)
Copyright relations of U.S. with foreign countries