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Can I legally use pictures of famous artworks on my blog or website, or are they copyrighted?

Copyright law differs across jurisdictions, but generally, creating and distributing artistic works requires permission from the copyright holder.

Artworks are usually copyrighted by the artist who created them, and permission is required for commercial use, alterations, or distribution.

Certain exceptions to copyright exist, such as for transformative use in commentary, criticism, or news reporting.

Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be freely used and adapted.

Determining the copyright status of a specific artwork requires researching the legal ownership and copyright restrictions.

Fixation, such as painting a picture or creating digital art, is when a work becomes eligible for copyright protection.

Visual artwork that can be protected by copyright includes graphic art, paintings, sculptures, illustrations, architectural drawings, and more.

Photography can also be protected by copyright, and you don't need to do anything else for your work to be eligible.

The National Gallery of Art provides over 50,000 images of artworks for free download, with no restrictions on use, commercial or non-commercial.

The Visual Artist Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) grants artists certain rights, such as attribution and disavowal, even after the ownership of the artwork changes hands.

It's still considered professional courtesy to attribute the original creator when using copyright-free images.

Works can be part of the public domain in three instances: their copyright has expired, they were never eligible for copyright, or they were dedicated to the public domain.

In the United States, any work published anywhere in the world prior to 1924 is generally in the public domain.

When searching in Google Images, you can select "Tools" on the right-hand side of the menu, then select an option that fits your needs from the "Usage rights" menu.

On Flickr, you can select the licensing dropdown menu at the far left and choose the option that fits your needs.

As a copyright owner, you have the right to make, sell, or otherwise distribute copies, adapt the work, and publicly display your work.

Copyright protection exists from the moment an original work is "fixed" in a tangible medium, such as when a photographer takes a picture.

A distinction must be made between two layers of copyright: the copyright that may apply to the original artwork (e.g., painting) and the copyright that may apply to a photograph of this work.

Generally speaking, copyright in Europe lasts for 70 years following the author's death.

Every work is copyrighted from the moment of its creation, and there are particularly few instances in which a work you find online is truly "copyright-free".

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