Copyright Issues

Can I Paint Copyrighted Material?

Sure! But you cannot sell it.

Folklore holds that if you change 20% (or 25%) of a painting then the copyright no longer applies. Be Careful! There is nothing in the law that says if you change X% it is a new work. It does say that something that is a "substantial copy" is in violation of the copyright law, but it is the judge who decides whether or not something is a "substantial copy." Even if you only copy part of the work, you could be in violation. For further information please see: Is it OK to Copy An Artist?

How Do I Copyright My Paintings?

Copyrights are an easy and inexpensive way to protect your work. All you have to do is place the word copyright or the copyright symbol ©, your name and the year of creation or first showing on the painting. Your painting is then protected until 70 years after your death. Items created before 1978 are protected for 95 years. That means that any painting created before 1923 is now in the Public Domain. Information about Public Domain is located at or or FAQs about Copyrights.

Latest Update: 04/22/2017