How Do You Copyright a Painting?
How Do You Copyright a Painting? - Robert Pugh used with permission
As soon as you make the first mark with your pencil or brush on paper or canvas, you have copyright on it!
If it’s still an idea, you can’t copyright it, but as soon as you’ve painted it, you have copyright on it automatically.
It’s the way you execute the idea that’s copyrightable, not the idea itself.
You don’t need to register copyright for it to exist, but if a work is potentially valuable or marketable, registering the copyright will make it easier for you to bring legal action against someone for copyright infringement.
If you’ve created something for an employer or as work for hire, copyright belongs to them (unless your contract with them says otherwise)
To make sure that the ownership of copyright is clear to anyone who buys a painting from you include with the painting a ‘Statement of Copyright’ which should include:
(1) The date of sale
(2) The price paid
(3) A notice that copyright for the work remains with the artist.
This is just a few lines which can be added to the bottom of a normal sale invoice/receipt – Include a place for dated signatures for yourself and the purchaser – two copies, one for each of you.
You don’t need to register copyright for it to exist , but if a work is potentially valuable or marketable, registering the copyright will make it easier for you to bring legal action against someone for copyright infringement.
There is no government registration system for copyright protection in Australia. You do not need to publish your work, put a copyright notice on it, or to do anything else to be covered by copyright — the protection is free and automatic.
In the US registering your work is required if you ever need to litigate a copyright claim in court.
Registering your work before any infringement occurs also allows the artist to collect damages set by law and attorney fees.
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