copyright permission question

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  • I received the following question from an employee at my college. Can anyone help me with this?

    Thank you,

    Niro Vasali has two pieces of artwork that I would like to use in a powerpoint and/or a printed document for the college. The primary one that I am interested in is titled "Sphere of Influence". There is a second piece that is titled "Collaboration II". They can both be seen at

    What type of permission do we need (if any) to place this in a powerpoint presentation? What type of permission (if any) do we need to print this on a brochure or in a letter?

    Part of the upcoming Strategic Plan will focus on the various "spheres" of influence in which we want to make an impact. I think this artwork could be a very attractive visual to use in communication pieces for major donors.
  • With just a little digging I found that Vasali is a contemporary Italian artist, born 1969, so his work is under copyright. You would need to find the copyright holder and seek permission if you used his work in a brochure or other printed document. You could PROBABLY use it in a PowerPoint with no permission, since it is educational and not being published.

    As to where you would go to obtain permission for artwork, I'm not sure, but try this site: It'll take you through the steps. And since this artist is Italian, it could get complex and international.

    An easier route might be to find a permission-free piece that is similar in feel or evokes the same theme. Try these sources:

    Microsoft Online Clip Art Library:
    • Clip art, photos, animations, sounds, templates – tons of stuff you can use for free.

    Creative Commons:
    • Find items in many categories available under Creative Commons licenses: audio, images, video, text, and educational materials like lesson plans and textbooks.

    Dover Books:
    • Dover publishes many books full of permission-free illustrations. You can also sign up for a weekly email of permission-free clip art.
  • I think that even the PowerPoint use might be iffy. If the use is indeed educational, and the PowerPoint were for classroom use, that would be one thing. If it were for educational use outside of the classroom, I think it's still iffy since it seems likely that it would be relatively easy to license (since the work is online through, I would try there). The way I read the question, though, it seems like the use might not be educational, even if it's for a college. If this were for promotional materials for the college, I don't think that even the PowerPoint would likely be fair, especially if it's widely shown.

    I like the idea of looking for royalty free images. The sources listed here are great. You can find some more at page where a colleague, Daniel Cornwall, has compiled a list of royalty free image, sound and video sources:
  • My guess is that if there were to be some kind of lawsuit, the strong part of it wouldn't be copyright, it would be associating a particular artist with your university (publicity and related areas), especially if your university does not own the paintings. Actually owning the objects in question does change things.

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