Monday, August 5, 2013

Do Not Use?

This silhouette of a powerful, savage woman is from this cover:
While the Burroughs text from 1908 is in the public domain, the Roy Krenkel cover is from 1961.

The problem is Krenkel died in 1983.  You can't ask permission to use this and you can't give him any money.  Maybe his kids have set up some kind of foundation to license art.  Maybe a silhouette is considered transformative and thus a new work you could use without permission.  But I wouldn't bet on it.

Looking here, if 1961 was the first publication of this image (let's assume yes) then it would enter the public domain after 28 years, or 1989.  But, if the copyright was renewed it won't be in the public domain until 2056. 

I'm willing to wager I'll be dead by then.  Someone could have been born on the day of Krenkel's death and die of old age before they could use his art for anything.  Insane. 

Anyway, I'll let you decide if you feel safe using this or not and gamble that my using it to illustrate the absurdity of American copyright length falls under Fair Use (probably doesn't).


  1. look up argosy covers and victorian pulp art

  2. I recognized that silhouette right off. I've always loved Mr. Krenkel's work.
    Yes, those laws have been distorted far beyond their original intent.

  3. 28 years after first pub was pretty fair. The oritinal intent of not allowing unoriginal copy-shops to profit off other folks labor seems fair to me. Do something original, folks do it all the time. As for the silhoutte trim off and reshape some of the extensions of hair and fur and you've got yourself a new image its not the same color space, art style,is but a portion of the original image.

  4. @Konsumterra: Thanks, I'll check out Argosy. As for pulps I've looked through everything I can think of Burroughs, Haggard, etc. Maybe there's more that just hasn't been digitized yet.

    @knobgobbler: And the shame of the current system is that cool works like this are often orphaned. I consider wanting to use his image as an iconic representation of a savage woman as honoring his skill and artistic vision, not leeching off his work.

    @JDJarvis: I don't think you'd even need 28 years. Look at Harry Potter, Rowling had time to write all the sequels and make movie deals all under the originally protected 14 years.

    Anyway, I just posted this out of frustration. I just want some images of women with weapons! So hard to find.

  5. That's not even to mention all the awesome 70s wargaming zines and D&D ripoffs mentioned in Playing At The World... That none of us will _ever_ see.

    Our hobby's history is locked up forever---hundreds of pages of commercially worthless, intellectually fascinating early gaming, inaccessible in case some dude's grandkids maybe decide to sue.

    I get so depressed thinking about this.

  6. Yes. I seems so odd to me that with so much technology so much data is still ephemeral for us. I often worry about Google pulling the plug on Blogger and all the stuff that would be lost then.

  7. Sorry but I can't agree, I think a man should own his rights at least though his own lifetime without having to pay lawyers money.

    I also think that the after death lengths they've been stretched to largely due to Disney is absurd, as this is just to benefit the large corporations who often own such rights. F**k DC, but I think Jerry Siegel's and Joe Shuster's family deserve a check when a hundred million dollar movie gets made.

    I have a feeling that this cover may still be owned by the publisher. Many of these artists didn't retain any rights and their work was the publisher's property, to slap on a half dozen different books and magazines, other times the original artist retained rights to resell it after a set amount of time.

    The saddest thing about copyright laws is they should in theory benefit the artist, but largely can only be enforced by large companies.

  8. It sounds like we don't disagree at all. The examples you give are strong evidence of how the system we have now isn't functioning as intended.

    The argument is always made that to best help creators, ideas and art must be treated the same way we treat physical property. But just like with physical property, what happens is that those with the money and power end up owning the ideas and art.

    So if you consider Superman like a plot of land, something that can only owned by one person, then Siegel and Shuster can sell it because they need money and then regret it when it turns out to be worth far more than they had imagined.