Friday, September 4, 2020

Do I Need Clearance in the U.S. if I Acquire Rights from a Public Domain Source Abroad?


Dear Rich: I'm really hoping you can answer my question. I'm in the process of publishing a book that will contain lots of images, mostly of artworks by one artist in particular. The artist is French, I am British, and my publisher is based in the U.S. The artist died over 70 years ago, and in Britain and Europe, his works are out of copyright. But in the U.S., there's a copyright extension on the works. If I, the British author, am getting images from European suppliers, for my American-published book, do I have to pay for copyright clearance?
Yes, you will need U.S. clearance for some of the works. Although most countries have placed the artist's works in the public domain (based on the life+70 years rule), the U.S. follows a different course. A work first published outside the U.S. (before 1978) is protected in the U.S. for 95 years from publication. That puts all of the artist's works published before 1925 in the public domain in the U.S. Because your publisher is distributing the book in the U.S. you will need clearance for all works published after 1924, regardless of where you obtained the source artwork.

No comments: