I'm writing some commercial software for which I would like to use an

← Return to forum

  • I'm writing some commercial software for which I would like to use an image I found on Flickr. It is a picture of an old-looking Japanese painting. The description of the painting on Flickr doesn't attribute the artist, or where it was taken. But it does say it was created sometime between 1926 and 1989, i.e. during Japan's Showa era.

    I've sent an email to the photographer via Flicker asking permission to use it, but haven't heard back in several days. Thus far, the Flickr address is the only provided contact information. However, I have found out his name and the name of the company in Japan that he owns or owned. Again, it's a dead end as far as providing contact info.

    I have been able to find that he sold the image on his eBay store which is now defunct, or at least the link doesn't work. The author has a blog which doesn't appear to have been updated since 2008. But the image was sold in 2009.

    So, I have two questions. First, does a photographer have a right to claim a copyright to a photograph which is a simple reproduction of an existing work of art? Secondly, should I be seeking the permission of the original artist (which I have no way of knowing at this point)? Third, if I make reasonable efforts to contact the photographer, and am unable to, do I have a right to go ahead and use the image?

    Thanks in advance. This is obviously a very confusing are.
  • Photographers can claim copyright ownership of photographs they take. If you wish to use a photograph protected by copyright in commercial software, you would need to get the copyright owner's permission to avoid copyright infringement. If you do not get permission and use the photograph anyway, you are taking the risk that the copyright owner will discover your use and will sue you for copyright infringement. Not locating the owner, or not hearing back from the owner, does not give you the right to use the photograph.

Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.

← Return to forum