I want to start a business where I make/print puzzles out of artwork /paintings from the past (not created by myself- the creators are dead) What do I need to do to prevent risk of copy write infringement?
1 Answer from Attorneys
First, you need to make sure that whatever content you are using that you did not create or have not licensed is free for you to use. Current copyright protections are for the life of the creator plus 70 years. So if you are using very old works then this won't matter, but if they are more modern it is a consideration. In general, pretty much anything published prior to 1926 will be in the public domain.
Regards to protecting your own work assuming it is relevant to your situation, any creative expression will be covered by copyright law automatically. Then you register the work with the US Copyright Office so to perfect your bundle of federal rights like the right to access the courts, the right to ask for statutory damages (sometimes the only damages worth bringing the case over), the right to attorney fees, etc.
If you need clarification or help, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
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DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.