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For artists, filmmakers, musicians, scholars, and others

We are all creators and consumers of cultural works

Using the work of others

Want to create something using a Van Gogh painting or a poem from the 1930s? Want to republish photographs found at a garage sale or letters found in an archive? Are you making a documentary, writing a dissertation, creating a collage?


Do you know the copyright status of the works you want to use? Do you know their copyright status in the countries where you want to distribute your creation?

Let us help you determine the copyright status of the works you want to use.

  • If a work is in the public domain, you have great freedom on how you re-use it.

  • If a work is still under copyright, you can seek a license (and know how many years the license needs to cover), apply fair use, or use an alternative work.

The Durationator includes tools to help you understand all of these steps. (We are not, however, your attorney.) 

Protecting your work–and yourself

Are you an artist that painted works since the 1950s? Did you inherit your grandmother's literary works? Are you a musican concerned about whether you can get your songs "back" under termination of transfer? We can assist with all of these questions and more. 

We can help you identify the length of the copyright in the works by you and others to better make decisions on licensing, and other choices.


A scholar wanted to use advertisements from the 20th century in a Perfume history book. We helped her sort through the 100s of choices, giving her a way to understand which of the ads were in the public domain and which were still under copyright. She and her attorney then performed a fair use analysis on the copyrighted works. She also then had a document for her publisher that showed the status of each work.

A musician wanted to use a poem from a World War I writer as the lyrics for a new song. We were able to provide information about the status of that poem, not only in the US, but around the world, enabling the musican to decide whether to go forward with the project, and if so, what legal issues might arise during distribution of the song.

The Amistad Collection was gifted the works of Countee Cullen, with a small list of works. We were able to identify numerous additional works, along with all registered derviative works that had used his writings. The archive then had a better understanding of the scope and term of each work in their collection and was better able to negotiate licenses and permissible uses.

A family wanted to learn more about a collection of music they'd recently inherited from their late uncle. It turned out that many of the works were eligible for the family to get the rights back, but they had to follow certain procedures at key dates. The Durationator provided information about those dates, requirements for each work, and general instructions for the family to take to their attorney and begin to formulate a plan.

A U.S. scholar was publishing a Chinese edition of his book.  We were able to determine the copyright status of the images in China, and assisting in the sorting through of additional images for that addition.

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