As an author the issue of copyright material holds dear to my heart. At the same time I have done quite a bit of digging on the issue of using images that have entered the public domain status.
Several comprehensive articles come to mind, one of which is an interview in the Huffington post where a journalist interviewed a law professor on the very matter. you can read the article about the famous landmark case in 1999 when the federal district court ruled in the Bridgman Art Library, Ltd., Plaintiff v Corel Corporation that "exact reproductions of public domain artworks are not protected by copyright."
Another website claimed that, "Throughout the world today, new works of authorship, including books and artworks, generally enjoy a uniform term of copyright protection that extends from date of creation until, typically, 70 years after the author dies. At the end of this copyright term, the work falls out of copyright protection and into the “public domain,” which means that the work may be freely used by anyone."
I also went to the Stamford Fair Use Act website to determine what this prestigious organization had to say about public domain material and copyright laws regarding artwork that had their copyright "expire", and below was what I found. (You can read the entire copyright issue on the Stamford page but below is an excerpt for your convenience.)
The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it. An important wrinkle to understand about public domain material is that, while each work belongs to the public, collections of public domain works may be protected by copyright. If, for example, someone has collected public domain images in a book or on a website, the collection as a whole may be protectible even though individual images are not. You are free to copy and use individual images but copying and distributing the complete collection may infringe what is known as the “collective works” copyright. Collections of public domain material will be protected if the person who created it has used creativity in the choices and organization of the public domain material.
If you enjoy looking at pieces of artwork by master artists you and your children may enjoy the Princesses Of Chadwick Castle Adventure series of 8 books. Each book contains almost forty pieces of artwork by artists of the past centuries.
Tell me your thoughts.