b2 asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 month ago

Who owns the licensing rights to Abraham Lincoln’s images?

Are former presidents images all license free? I see a bunch of merchandise and images being used by companies and super PACs but is this legal? Is Abraham Lincolns (the most stolen I can see) image license free, or does somebody own the rights?

6 Answers

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  • 4 weeks ago

    Whoever was the "legal author" who created the original work of creative authorship owns the copyright until it expires or until they transfer ownership to others.  The US copyright rules on expiration are complicated, date dependent,  and have changed dramatically over the past 100 years.  In theory, there are numerous images of Lincoln that are still copyrighted, although any that were "published in the USA" prior to 1923 would have expired, as one example.  Copyright of some works may last much longer than 100 years. Others never had copyright to begin with.

  • 1 month ago

    Lincoln's image is in the public domain. However, if someone paints a portrait of Lincoln, that individual image would be copyrighted by that artist (at least the creative part of the image that he/she created).

    There are only a few states that permit a person's estate to retain ownership of the decedent. For example, the courts ruled that Marilyn Monroe was a New York resident when she died and NY doesn't (or at least didn't) recognize ownership of someone's image after they died, so Marilyn Monroe's image is public domain. The photographs, movies, and such are still copyrighted, but if you want to make a Marilyn Monroe pillow from your own drawing of her, you're free to do so. Same hold true if you want to make one of Lincoln.

  • 1 month ago

    Images generated by the US government are frequently copyright free, however, copyright protection expires after a period of time which, for photos of Lincoln, has long since past.

  • Yeti
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Many of his original images likely did not even have copyright protection at the time they were created. But if they did, it would have expired by now, and they'd be in the public domain.

    But... any updated/current version could have copyright protection for the alterations made. For example, if someone did a lot of touchup work on an old photo, their particular version could have some level of protections.

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  • 1 month ago

    Given how long ago he died, copyright would have expired a long time ago.

  • 1 month ago

    Not all former Present's images are public domain. Abraham Lincoln's image is.

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