Copyright - use part of a painting for company logo
August 15, 2022 5:45 AM   Subscribe

I want to use a part of a painting for a logo. It is a painting from Picasso, let's say this one: and I want to incorporate the head of the horse into my logo. What rules do apply here? Picasso died 1972 so his paintings are still copyrighted, so I can't reproduce them without auithorization. Is my case special? Is it relevant that I only use a small part?

(I have heard about lawyers and will likely contact one. But I want to gather a little bit of information first. I live in Germany.)
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
The usual strategy that people use is to hire an artist to create a new work that is similar to the old, but substantially different. It basically negates the issue.
posted by mortaddams at 5:57 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Under US copyright law this would not be OK. Under the US law's "fair use" provision, you CAN use part or all of a copyrighted work for certain limited purposes, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. So for example if I am writing a review of a copyrighted book, I can quote from it in the review. But a business logo would not be considered fair use, since its uses are not limited to those described in the act. EU laws differ, but are generally more restrictive when it comes to fair use. So, draw your own horse, or get permission from the Picasso estate.
posted by beagle at 6:58 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Best answer: For the record, the US fair use test considers four factors, not just purpose.

* Nature of the work copied
* Nature of the use
* Amount of the work used
* Effect on the market for the work

An I-am-not-a-lawyer-GO-CONSULT-A-LAWYER assessment of this use: Nature of the work does not favor a fair-use finding; it's clearly and obviously a highly creative work. Nature of the use, as beagle indicates, does not favor a fair use finding. Amount of the work used might, since it is not the entire work and (I assume) is only the part of the work relevant to the use -- but then again, it might not, since the horse by itself is pretty recognizably part of the work, which could prompt a "heart of the work" finding. Effect on the market likely disfavors fair use, because there's a whole machine, if a fairly dysfunctional one, for licensing Picasso's stuff and the judge may ask why you didn't seek a license.

In your shoes, I would go forward assuming your intended use is infringing... which means finding another option.
posted by humbug at 7:53 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Picasso estate will shut you down in two seconds. Use in a logo or advertising is not protected under Fair Use/Fair Dealing. Create your own artwork rather than ripping off the work of another.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:40 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]

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