This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration BradHallArt.com


Can you resell public domain drawings and photographs?

Yes, you can resell images, such as drawings and photographs, stories, poems, etc. that have gone into public domain. Something goes into public domain when the copyright has expired and it goes to The United States Library of Congress. And yes, you can charge whatever people are willing to pay, and you really don't have to tell them that they could have gotten it for free. There is nothing illegal about that.

However, you can't copyright public domain images. That is, you can't stop anyone else from copying, and selling, a public domain image. So, if you have, for example, a map of Phoenix from 1885 (like the one pictured), you can write *copyright* all over it on your website, but it's meaningless. This map, which is from The Library of Congress, is free to be used by anyone.

And here is a larger version of this image of Phoenix, Arizona Territory in 1885. You can give it away, or sell it. You just can't stop anyone else from doing it.