How can I make sure a sculpture is in a public domain?

Posted by Customer Support on

We had a really good question today and wanted to share it with you:

QUESTION: "I want to buy one of the museum sculpture replicas, but I am concerned over legal issues. How can I make sure a sculpture is in a public domain? Is the fact that an author died more than 70 years ago is sufficient? I am not sure. Museums buy old sculptures all the time, don't they have any IP rights at all?"

ANSWER: "That is a good question. Yes, once an artist dies and 70 or 75 years passes (in that range), their artworks go into the public domain. Manufacturers can re-sculpt their items without legal issues. Yes, a museum may own the item. But the piece can still be in the public domain if it is re-sculpted. A photo of a piece in a museum is different since the copyright is with the photo, not the original / old statue. Whenever possible, we buy reproductions from museums who have them reproduced because we prefer to help support the museums. However, there are lots of great pieces out there which the museums don't have the resources (or the interest) in reproducing from their entire collections. That's where manufacturers who appreciate art actually help build interest in museum pieces - which otherwise might not be as well known - by reproducing them.

For any artwork that is still under copyright, such as our Salvador Dali reproductions, these have all been licensed from the appropriate "owners". Manufacturers take care of that when they decide to put them into production."

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