We’ve had many patrons ask questions about copyright, including an interesting one about getting permission to sell or make reproductions of an original oil painting. If you own an original work of art and are looking for resources on reproducing the artwork for profit and/or obtaining authorization to resell the artwork, including finding the applicable forms, there are a few resources you can try (including our new legal research guide on copyright law).
Permission and copyright in regards to artistic works can be a bit more complex than other forms of copyright. Nolo press publishes a number of excellent copyright-related titles that provide an overview of the issue including: Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off; Patent, Copyright & Trademark; and The Craft Artist’s Legal Guide (check at your local public library to see if they carry the above-mentioned titles).
Works of visual art are covered by copyright. However, certain kinds of works of visual art (particularly limited editions) are also protected under the attribution and integrity aspects of the Visual Rights Act (VARA), 17 United States Code, Section 106A . Circular 40 from the US Copyright Office covers copyright registration for works of visual art. The Artists Rights Society also covers other rights assigned to artwork creators, including resale rights and moral rights. The Craft Artist’s Legal Guide has a section on what rights a customer has when they buy a work of art. Nolo has an online article that covers the basics of assignments and licensing.