Copyright owners have certain exclusive rights. These include the right to reproduce their work; to distribute their work; to create derivative works; to publicly display their work; and to publicly perform their work.
Non-owners often infringe on these rights when they engage in common activities like photocopying, downloading files, posting works (for example, photographs, graphics, text and sound) to a website, showing films and performing dramatic works like plays and songs.
The copyright holder (and in this case, also the photographer) of the photograph at right (Annalee Garletz) has all of the above rights with regard to the photograph. The copyright holder alone may use the work or grant permission to others to use the work. In the past, some artists have granted museums the right to display their works. They also have granted at least one museum the right to create a derivative work.
In the 1980's, when "Jammin At The Savoy" a painting by Romare Beardon, was displayed by the Brooklyn Museum, the museum sought permission and obtained the right to make posters of the painting. The posters identified the artist and bore the name of the painting. They also included the museum's name and the dates of the show at which the painting was displayed. These posters were sold by the museum, subject to a licensing agreement with the copyright owner, a likely condition of which was that a portion of the proceeds would be paid to the owner.
Unless a work falls within one of the exceptions above, or your intended use of a work constitutes "fair use", you may only use the work with the permission of the copyright owner.
Please see Frequently asked Questions about seeking Permissions.
Because the Bearden painting is a copyrighted work, and we were not sure whether our use of the painting would be deemed "fair use," we sought permission from the copyright holder to reproduce it for use on this website, but were not successful.
Royalties and Fees
No Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty member or staff person shall commit to pay a royalty, license, or other fee to a copyright owner without first obtaining the approval of the campus Intellectual Property Coordinator. With regard to negotiating royalties, licenses, and other fees, it often is helpful to use the services of copyright clearing house associations. For a listing of clearinghouses by category of work, see our Copyright Clearinghouse Roster.
We did not obtain permission to use the Bearden painting discussed on this website, but sought the assistance of the Visual Artists and Galleries Association, Inc. (VAGA), an intellectual property rights coordinator that contacts the copyright owner and negotiates the terms of a licensing agreement. Obtaining the permission of the copyright owner is just the first step, however.
Because we were dealing with a work of art (and because we could not download or scan the actual painting), we also had to request permission to use a photographer's two-dimensional photographic image (a slide) of the painting from which we could produce the electronic image. Again, VAGA provided assistance in contacting the copyright owner and negotiating the rental of the slide.