Don’t let copyright take over your life – follow this advice instead

Georgia O'Keefe publicity poster showing white poppy painting

This week I visited the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition at Tate Modern. No photographs allowed. In the other rooms you could take photos (no flash) so by uploading Monet and Rothko here am I breaking copyright law?

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What about the photo of the shop selling copies of O’Keefe’s paintings – a copy of a copy of a copy….

wall of O'Keefe paintings in the Tate Modern shop

Monet has been dead 90 years. Rothko for 46 years. These are my own photographs. When, where and how does the 50 year rule apply?

Did the Hargreaves Review (2011) really say educational usage is exempt from copyright law?

What’s the difference between Fair Use and Fair Deal?

Fair Use applies to the US. Fair Deal is the UK legal term for whether the use of copyright material is lawful or infringes copyright.  It takes a brave person to venture in There is no statutory definition of fair dealing – it will always be a matter of fact, degree and impression in each case.’ from Exceptions to copyright: Education and Teaching, from the government’s Intellectual Property Office.

red circle with black C for copyright and a red

Copyright is the law most often broken. We’e all done it. Taken images from the internet for presentations and resources. If they’re already in the public domain then it’s ok isn’t it? We’re in a hurry and the image is just what we want and who’s going to know anyway!

I don’t pretend to have the answers. Copyright confuses me as much as anyone. So I’ve given up trying to know it and have changed my approach instead. If you’re also perplexed by the whole copyright issue this might help. If it’s something you’ve never thought about, it might help too.

  1. Where ever possible take your own photographs. These are free to use without worry. It gets complicated if they involve other people so try not to – if unavoidable ask for permission to put them online.
  2. Go to collections of copyright free images. Pixabay is a great place to start with https://pixabay.com/
  3. Use Google’s Advanced Image Search (under the options cog top right or click here and bookmark the page). Select from the drop down menu against Usage Rights. Free to Use or Share is safest but there are other options too.
  4. Wikipedia can be your friend. Most of their images are in the public domain. Click onto any image to see its copyright information. Take care with their use of the term Fair Use. This is US coyright law. In the UK we have Fair Deal and it is different.
  5. Beware thinking Fair Deal protects you. See the quote above from the Intellectual Property Office.

White I was in London I noticed outside the British Museum was a telephone box with a mattress inside. No one was taking any notice but I stopped to photograph it thinking it might be useful one day.  It’s become a habit and this is the problem with copyright. It can take over your life if you let it. So don’t and follow the advice above instead!

red phone box with a mattress inside