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Can I use the work of a German artist (d.1908) w/o licensing it?
February 23, 2013 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I love the work of Wilhelm Busch and I want to use a couple of images from "Hans Huckebein" for commercial purposes. I live in the United States, and I don't anticipate any international business transactions. So what I want to know is, can I assume Busch's work is in the public domain (he died in 1908), like, for example, John Tenniel's illustrations for the original "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"? Or might Busch's work still be under copyright in Germany, and, if so, how do I find out? I'm pretty sure that if it's under copyright in Germany, I can't just use it in the USA. I am not interested in cheating anyone out of licensing fees! But naturally I would rather not pay them if I don't have to.
posted by Rula Lenska to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
His work is protected in Europe for 70 years after his death. So you're totally in the clear.
posted by ubiquity at 6:42 PM on February 23, 2013


Bizarrely, almost this exact question has been asked on some random German ask-a-lawyer website. That answer says what ubiquity said and notes that a photograph, say, of his work could be subject to copyright because the photographer hasn't been dead for 70 years. So there's some question of whether you'd end up using someone else's worth to use Busch's if that makes sense. (I know nothing about how procuring artwork for books or whatever works, so I really have no idea if that's a concern with Busch's drawings compared to, say, a sculpture where you're obviously going to need a photograph.)
posted by hoyland at 6:53 PM on February 23, 2013


However, reproductions of his work (in art textbooks and museum catalogs) may be under copyright.
posted by Nomyte at 6:54 PM on February 23, 2013


Yes.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 11:22 PM on February 23, 2013


"reproductions of his work..."

Actually, the law on that changed in the last ten years. Reproductions that have no transformative value are not protected by copyright.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 11:22 PM on February 23, 2013


If you have your own photos or scans of his work, you're fine. But using another's photos might be problematic.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:45 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Actually, the law on that changed in the last ten years. Reproductions that have no transformative value are not protected by copyright.”

Indeed. The case that established this is Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 5:52 AM on February 24, 2013


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