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Design/Collage and Copyrights


I make posters/collages sometimes incorporating other's images.  These images are cropped or colorized or altered and combined with text.  Does it infringe on other's copyrights?  For example, I might find an old woodcut image from a medical textbook and combine it with the Mona Lisa's left eye.  Do I need to obtain rights to these images?  Where do I draw the line?  How can I know what is fair use and what is improper?

Thanks for you help.


Hi Will,

If what you create is artwork that falls under a category such as mixed media, collage, altered art, assemblage, etc. then you have nothing to worry about. If you create this artwork for commercial use, such as for a print ad campaign, then it becomes a matter of copyright law. Here's a link to a good resource for fair use guidelines:


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Erika Block


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Fifteen years experience in corporate advertising and marketing, for some of the biggest brand names in the US. Five years as an agency owner. One year as a publisher.

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