What Does it Mean If a Fine Art Picture Has a Copyright?

By Allison McCalman
Paintings and works of art are protected by copyright laws.
Salvador Dali painting image by Daria Miroshnikova from Fotolia.com

Copyright law in the United States was implemented to encourage creativity by offering exclusive rights to original creators, authors and inventors. Works of art including fine art, pictures and paintings are protected by provisions in the Copyright Act.

Copyright Law

United States copyright law is based on the Copyright Act of 1976 that later went into effect in 1978. U.S. copyright law protects all original "works of authorship," including pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, architectural works, literary works, musical works, sound recordings, dramatic works, pantomimes, choreographic works, motion pictures and other audio visual works. Section 106 of the Copyright Act has provisions that give the original creator the exclusive right to replicate a copyrighted graphic, pictorial, or sculptural work of art into copies.

Copyrighted Artwork

Fine art pictures are protected by copyright laws and this means that duplication, reproduction and rendering of a fine art picture is prohibited without the consent of the artist who created it. Copyright law gives the artist the ability to retain exclusive ownership of the rights to the work even if it is sold or given as a gift to someone else. The artist will retain the right to recreate, reproduce or duplicate the work of art.

Copyright Violation

Anyone who infringes on the exclusive rights afforded to the copyright holder of a work of art such as a fine art picture is in violation of copyright law. Persons who violate the rights of the creator can be prosecuted in a court of law and fined or charged for infringing on the copyright. In some cases, the violator can be found guilty and face criminal penalties or even imprisonment.

About the Author

Allison McCalman has been writing professionally since 2009. Her expertise is in business, media, intellectual property law and tourism. McCalman's work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism.