Let’s talk about copyright issues. First, let me preface this by saying that I am not an attorney, so always seek legal counsel with questions about copyright issues. The following information is my understanding of the copyright law and should not be construed in any way as legal advice.
As an artist, copyright is something that I take seriously because I’ve had people rip off my art and profit from it. We’ve had studios use our images and sell them as their own, and I can tell you that it feels like you’ve been violated in some way. I’ve also had customers say they’ve tried to paint some of our studio paintings at home on their own. This is, essentially, theft. All of our paintings are copyrighted, and use of those images without our consent is copyright infringement.
If you want to use a piece of art created by someone else, you either have to get their written permission, or the artist needs to have been dead for at least 70 years. For works created before 1978, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date copyright was registered/secured, and could be extended a renewal term from 47 years for a total of 75 years. This was later extended to 95 years for anyone with still holding a copyright as of 1998. Any work that is created on or after January 1, 1978 is automatically protected from the time of its creation, and it’s given copyright protection for the entire life of the artist, plus an additional 70 years after the artist’s death.
You’ll see a lot of Van Gogh and Monet paintings at sip and paint studios, and the reason they can use them is that the artists have been dead long enough or the work was created long enough ago that the copyright has expired and the images have become public domain.
When we do consulting, we license our images to the new studio but retain the copyright. If you own a sip and paint studio and have artists creating new art for your classes, you need to make sure you have them sign a contract giving you the sole copyright for the works they’ve created. They are works “made for hire” and are the employer’s domain, but you need to protect yourself by having them sign a document to that effect. For works made for hire, the copyright duration is 120 years from creation.