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Q: Copies of Famous Statues ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Copies of Famous Statues
Category: Arts and Entertainment
Asked by: englander-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 23 Aug 2006 03:30 PDT
Expires: 22 Sep 2006 03:30 PDT
Question ID: 758659
Further to an earlier question of mine about making statues of famous
people, what about copying famous works of art, such as Canova's Three
Graces and/or Michelangelo's David, for example? Looking at current
copyright laws, presumably any copyright that might have existed on
statues carved 150 years or more ago would not be relevant now,(?) -
especially as these works were often copies of another artist's
earlier work anyway - but what happens if a statue sculpted 150 years
ago is in a private museum... and somehow I get a photograph of it,
can I sculpt an exact copy of it in marble? One statue probably
wouldn't be a problem, but what happens if i want to make several
copies of it and then sell them? (I am not talking of passing them off
as the real thing, merely copies of the original.)
Subject: Re: Copies of Famous Statues
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 23 Aug 2006 05:13 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Sculpt away!

Copyright on works that are 150 years old (or older) has long expired,
and the works can be freely copied.

The precise cut-off dates when copyright expires varies from country
to country.  In the US, the cut-off is January 1, 1923...any works
from prior to this date are in the public domain:
...the U.S. copyright in any work published or copyrighted prior to
January 1, 1923, has expired by operation of law, and the work has
permanently fallen into the public domain in the United States.

Copying from a photograph of a statue is a more complicated question,
but generally, the law is fairly liberal here as well, in terms of
copies of, say, a recent photo of an old work of art that is in the
public domain.

In the US, the main case on this very topic is Bridgeman v Corel:

which says that photos lacking in creativity, but meant to be a
slavish copy of a work of art, are not copyright-protected, if the
artwork itself is public domain.

The case dealt with paintings, so it leaves open the question of
sculpture.  But still, the law clearly provides a lot of latitude for
you to make copies of old statues.

Have fun...let me know if there's anything else you need.


search strategy -- Used bookmarked links to sites on copyright

Request for Answer Clarification by englander-ga on 23 Aug 2006 09:38 PDT
One additional question in relation to the above....  The works of
Frederic Remington for example - he died in 1909 - on a website
selling his paintings and bronzes, has written underneath them
"Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee". Surely his
works must be out of copyright?

Then assuming they are out of copyright, or even if they are not, and
one made a marble copy of one of his bronzes, or depicted one of his
paintings in a marble sculpture, could one then add "in the style of"
or "after" Remington, in the description, or would this be a step too

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 23 Aug 2006 13:22 PDT

People sometimes include copyright or do-not-reproduce notices on
works to dissuade copying, regardless of whether the works are
actually copyright-protected or not.  I don't know if this is the case
with the Remington site you mentioned, but whatever the site may say,
the basic rules remain the same.

Works dated earlier than 1923 are in the public domain in the US, and
are not copyright-protected.

As for making use of the artist's name, that's a slightly more complex
matter, since even the names of long dead artists may be trademarked
-- a very different sort of protection than copyright, and subject to
different rules.

The Frederic Remington name is, in fact, a trademarked name, so you
are not free to use it with total abandon.

If you want to check on a trademark, head to the USPTO site:

and click on "Search Trademarks" and enter the artist's name in the search box.

Bottom line -- I believe you can indeed make copies of pre-1923
sculptures (including Remington's) but are restricted in the use of
the Remington name, since it is trademarked.  Detailing the actual
limits would require additional research that is beyond the scope of
this question, I'm afraid.

Hope that clears things up (as much as these things are ever clear in
intellectual property land!)

englander-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks for that. A great answer.

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