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Article: Paint with BPBN: Are Paint by Numbers Copyrighted?

Paint with BPBN: Are Paint by Numbers Copyrighted? - BestPaintByNumbers

Paint with BPBN: Are Paint by Numbers Copyrighted?

Are Paint by Numbers copyrighted? This is the question a lot of people are curious about. From the images used in the kits to the actual copyright of the product itself, many people are curious to know the answer. With all the buzz around this specific question, this article will explore the basics of copyright laws. Keep on reading this article to know more!

A man and a woman painting on a canvas

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Regardless of your profession, whether you work in a creative industry, commerce, academics, or pretty much any field, you may have encountered the word “copyright.” Meanwhile, over the TV and internet, we may have also encountered news about copyright infringement or registration suits from here and there. With its ubiquity, we can know for certain that many people put significance over this law.

Why is it important anyway? How does copyright law protect artworks? And finally, are paint by numbers copyrighted? Just continue reading if you wanna know the answer to these questions!

Understanding the Basics of Copyright Laws in the United States

Copyright is a sort of intellectual ownership law that safeguards the authorship of various creative works once they are fixed in a tangible form of representation. There are several sorts of works in copyright law, including paintings, pictures, graphics, musical compositions, films, literature, and many more. Accordingly,  the rights granted to the owner of a particular work are the control over the reproduction and distribution of their work. 

While copyright laws differ from one country to another, most countries have patterned their laws based on the Copyright Laws in the United States. Because of that, we will specifically focus on US laws, not only because it is the most common and similar to other countries, but because Best Paint by Numbers is also a company based in the US. 

The origins of copyright protection may be traced back to the United States Constitution. The writers of the constitution considered granting writers exclusive legal rights to their works for short periods.

Accordingly, they believe that this grant would promote progress in the fields of arts and sciences. Moreover, intellectual property law has been a cornerstone of US law since the country's inception. Congress created the first federal copyright law in 1790, and it has been amended over the years to keep up with the latest developments.

A photo of a copywriter machine

The Copyright Act of 1976 is the foundation of current copyright law in the United States. It went into effect on January 1, 1978, bringing about major and far-reaching reforms in many facets of intellectual property law. To accommodate for new forms of media, the intellectual property act now applies to all "original works of authorship." Congress used this broad wording to avoid continuously amending copyright laws to cater to the emergence of new technologies and forms of expression, such as still photographs, movies, or music.

Provisions in the law grant the following rights to the author/s or owners of the material which include:

  1. The right to reproduce the work;
  2. The right to make variations or derivative works from the original work;
  3. The right to sell or distribute copies;
  4. The right to perform or display the work;
  5. The right to record the work (for audiovisual materials).

Once your work or material is intellectually protected under the law, you are granted these rights throughout your lifetime, plus an additional 70 years after one’s death. Once the rights end or expire, the work or material falls under the public domain which allows other people to use one’s works without permission. No royalties will be given as well.

Artworks and Copyright Laws

Artists need to learn the intellectual property laws to avoid their works getting plagiarized as well as to know the available legal remedies if this happens. 

When it comes to this law, artists may have two questions: (1) how can I safeguard my creative work, and (2) when may I utilize someone else's work on my own? And these two problems illustrate the basic conflict in the law between incentivizing creators to produce and permitting creations to slip into what is known as the public domain – that is, works unregulated by intellectual property law and hence freely used by others.

A Donald Trump Politician America

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Copyright protection begins when it is formed and fixed in a physical form that is detectable either physically or with the assistance of a machine or mechanism. Literary, theatrical, musical, and aesthetic creations are among those that can be secured.

This includes any material artworks such as, but not limited to, paintings, sculptures, literary works, architectural works, music, and many more.  Concepts, ideas, techniques, or operating methods are not protected by copyright. However, it may still be safeguarded how these objects are expressed - in some physical form.

Despite the exclusive rights granted to owners or authors of the material, one must be aware that there is a provision under the law called the Fair use policy, oftentimes known as a defense against copyright infringement or plagiarism.

Fair use of a copyrighted work is not copyright infringement under section 107, even though such usage legally violates section 106. Fair use refers to the use of copyrighted material for critique, factual reporting, education, analysis, or research, this policy may also be used as long as it does not violate any provisions in the law.

A screenshot of a copyright

Art Appropriation vs. Copyright Laws 

Since many are curious to know the answer to the question, are paint by numbers copyrighted? Let’s briefly discuss art appropriation, which is where PBN kits actually fall under. Accordingly, artists may purposely take another artist's work and adapt, expand on, or alter it in their own creation.

Andy Warhol's iconic Marilyn diptych painting is one of the many famous appropriated artworks.  Warhol adapted the picture into his own art, producing something fresh and distinctive.

Artists often acknowledge being inspired by other works, but you should understand the difference between copyright infringement and artistic appropriation.

Paint by numbers companies, including Best Paint by Numbers ensure that we follow copyright laws so the artworks (for fixed kits designs) are covered under the fair use policy in the law. Fair use is an exemption from copyright. Several categories of fair use permit one artist to utilize the copyrighted work of another. Parody and creative modification are two frequent examples.

A Marilyn Monroe graffiti painting on a wooden Piano

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Moreover, the images used for the painting kits are either free to use or in the public domain.

Can I Copyright my Completed Paint by Numbers Kit? 

Another common question we encounter other than, “are paint by numbers copyrighted?” is if painters can copyright their completed paint by numbers kit. The answer is no, especially if your kit is a fixed design originating from public domain famous paintings since it might be for commercial use. Courts have decided that the fair use policy exempts those works that will be commercially used and distributed.

However, one might ask if the same rule applies to Custom Paint by Number kits, especially those custom kits with an original image. Well, you need to know that copyright is an “automatic right” granted to artists as long as it’s an original work in a physical form.

However, some artists choose to strengthen their protection by licensing their artwork. Obtaining copyright of your work requires submitting different requirements,  a filing fee, and proof of the artwork. The application is then reviewed by the Copyright Office Review Board to ensure that your work is eligible for protection.

A painting of a lady

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Key Takeaways

From the basics of copyright law to fair use policy, and art appropriation, we hope that you find the discussion about “is paint by numbers copyrighted?” useful as an artist!

Paint your own photo with a paint by numbers custom kit



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