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Copyright of movie posters

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Steve Kirkham
Copyright of movie posters
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:35:06 am


I don't know if this has been discussed before but be interested in opinions. I work as a designer with a company who has close ties with a movie studio archive in the UK and we do lots of different projects with them and of course we have to get clearances from them to use images from the movies they own.

Now the question arises - there are lots of companies on the net and ebay offering repros of both stills and movie posters which are ostensibly owned by this movie studio. So what is the position with regards to copyright etc.

I am asking both for an understanding in the UK and more especially in the US (which seems to have slightly different views on "public domain" items). is the fact that these stills and posters have been used as advertising that they are now considered pubic domain.

We all know it's easy enough to take an image from a famous movie, run it through a bunch of Photoshop filters to make it look arty and claim it as an original artwork and then print it out on a canvas printer and sell it framed. A trip down places like Camden Market in London will confirm that. It is my understanding that Universal are now targetting people like this but are they right? Or should they be considered works of "art" so no need to pay for the rights....

Also you see things like Calendars etc. which also have repros of posters and the copyright notice will say Copyright So and So Archive. So that says to me I could go and buy a bunch of posters and stills, set up an archive (in name only) and then start using those images on anything I like. Surely that can't be right - surely the original film studios own the copyright don't they?

And another thing - what is the position with actual original artwork. Say if I get a bunch of artists to draw their interpretations of famous film images/posters as one off actual artwork would I be infringing any copyright.

I know it's a very complicated area and with the internet and desktop printers etc a bit of a quagmire but be interested to know if anyone has the definitive answer.


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warren meaney
Re: Copyright of movie posters
on Dec 27, 2011 at 9:02:22 pm

having been left a small inheritence, i was hoping to start a small business, doing film,art,anything interesting posters.also t_shirts etc..have spent hours looking at copyright law etc..the few key facts seem to be
1. 70 years from production
2. or death of creator(whatever 1st)
3. public domain = nothing
4. when u make good money u get noticed.
5. man in shed gets a cease + stop letter..
it all seens a grey area..but check getty images..blood hounds
hoping for some good advice to
regards warren...

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