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Copyright Law: Publishing Art and the Public Domain

April 16, 2008–June 9, 2008
Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

The copyright law of essentially every developed nation protects new artworks and other creative works from the date of creation until 70 years after the artist dies. But this was not always so, particularly in the United States, where the term of copyright protection was previously calculated on the basis of when and how a work was published—for example, in a book or magazine. Moreover, many artworks prematurely fell out of copyright protection and into the public domain because the artist failed to comply with certain formalities required under the old copyright law. Even though the rules have changed for newer works of art, most artworks created prior to 1978 are still subject to the same old rules. Using examples from the museum's collection, this exhibition highlights several of the unique publication-based rules of United States copyright law and shows how they affect whether an older artwork is in the public domain.

This exhibition is on view during library hours only. See hours below.

Library Hours

September 4, 2007–May 17, 2008

Sunday-Tuesday, Closed
Wednesday, 12:30-5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 12:30-8:00 p.m.
Friday, 12:30-5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10:00-5:00 p.m.

May 18, 2008-July 1, 2008

Saturday-Tuesday, Closed
Wednesday, 12:30-5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 12:30-8:00 p.m.
Friday, 12:30-5:00 p.m.

Grant Wood. American Gothic, 1930. Friends of American Art Collection.