Friday, February 28, 2014

Can I Display French Poetry At My Bar?

from the Paris Sketch Book by
William Makepeace Thackeray
Dear Rich: I own a bar in New York City. The bar is named after a famous French poet from the late 1800s. He died in 1896. He drew sketches as well as writing poems. I purchased a book from a manuscript museum based in Paris about the Poet. The book has images of the poet's handwritten manuscripts and drawings. I want to tear out some of these pages, cut out the images and make a collage on my bar top of the poets works. The collage will also be made of torn out pages from old poetry books that I have manipulated using paint to make the pages look old. The entire bar top will then be covered in a glass waterproof coating. Can I use pages from this book? All the images are of works produced by the poet before 1900. Yet this book was just produced last year. Pas de problème for your project. The Dear Rich Staff says, "Tous les bons!"
First sale doctrine. You're free to cut up pages of a book and display them in your bar under a principle known as the first sale doctrine -- a copyright principle that enables the owner of an authorized copy of a work to sell or dispose of it. There are some limitations for fine art works and even for printed books (as we discussed in a previous entry). But your proposed use steers safely clear of problems. In addition, if the works were published in the U.S. before 1923, they are safely in the public domain and free for you to use for any purpose.