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Old 06-08-2012, 09:24 PM   #1
othellomcbane
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Default can breweries use public domain art for labels?

I'm asking purely hypothetically — I am not actually selling beer or in a position to start up a brewery myself, at least not any time in the near future.

What legal or rights issues would there be for a brewery using public domain imagery in their labels? (For example, old paintings from the 1800's where the artist is long dead.) Is there a fee / no fee / required permissions / annoying paperwork? I don't know of any breweries that have really gone this route, so maybe it's not legally possible at all.

Guessing someone out there will probably know. Thanks!

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Old 06-09-2012, 12:49 AM   #2
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I would say that most commercial breweries commission artists/graphic designers/marketing firms to create their labels and branding. They'd probably be the ones to ask since I have no clue lol. Good luck finding out though!

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Old 06-09-2012, 01:20 AM   #3
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Public domain means the images are unregulated. That said, don't assume that something is public domain just because it is old. There are no shortage of exceptions to the standard copyright expiration rules.

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Old 06-09-2012, 04:18 AM   #4
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Public domain means the images are unregulated. That said, don't assume that something is public domain just because it is old. There are no shortage of exceptions to the standard copyright expiration rules.
Yeah, I figured that not every old painting is necessarily public domain. But that answers my question, thanks!
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Old 06-15-2012, 04:46 AM   #5
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If an image is truly in the public domain, it can be used in any manner you wish. However, as said previously do not assume an image is in the pubic domain just because it's old or the artist is deceased. Copyright does survive the original artists death.

Also, you would be surprised how many large companies "steal" images on a regular basis; not because they are too cheap to buy a license but because they happen to be employing someone (typically a younger employee) who thinks nothing of it.

Oh and just because someone says it's ok to use an image doesn't meant it is. Get a release, always get a release.

As a photographer, this is always one of those issues that never seems to die.

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Old 06-15-2012, 04:52 AM   #6
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As a side note, if you happened to use a copyrighted image and that image was in fact registered, you could liable for statutory damages of 200.00 to 150,000 per use.....

Even 200 per bottle can make that beer very expensive.

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Old 06-15-2012, 05:03 AM   #7
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not because they are too cheap to buy a license but because they happen to be employing someone (typically a younger employee) who thinks nothing of it.
Case(s) in point (Forever 21 apparently steals left and right)
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:51 AM   #8
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My point exactly, kids today actually believe that it's ok to use your image, they think they are helping get you exposure, to which I respond exposure doesn't put food on my table.

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Old 06-21-2012, 10:26 PM   #9
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Great info from everyone, thanks. I guess I'll continue using old paintings for the aesthetic, which I love, and likely have a fun legal scavenger hunt if I ever do miraculously get to use them to sell my own beer.

Or maybe I'll be able to convince my artist girlfriend to finally make some art for me...

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