Napoleon images

This scenario has been provided by School of Creative Media by Dr Fiona Peterson, Simon Embury, Rowan Humphrey, Dr Kipps Horn, John Phillips and Stephen Skok. The discussion response to the scenario has been provided by Anne Lennox. They are fictitious but are realistic situations for some students and staff.


Chris has an assignment and wants to use a few images of old 19th century paintings of Napoleon, one of which is the iconic image of Napoleon riding a horse. Since he sourced the images from different websites, he was told that he needed to seek permission from the website owners. However, Chris is seeking a means to use the works without having to seek permission.


As Chris has sourced the images from websites found on the internet, technically, Chris would need permission to use the images. Although the old paintings would be considered to be in the public domain, the images Chris has found might still be in copyright. The website owners may also own a thin layer of copyright in the work, depending on the skill and labour employed by the website owner to either photograph the original work, or scan the original work into a new digital format.

In this instance where Chris doesn’t want to seek permission, it is best he sources images that are clearly in the public domain. Another solution would be to photograph the original work himself; however he has neither the time nor resources to fly overseas to photograph the work.

Public domain refers to the duration of copyright, how long copyright last. As of 2005 copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, previous to the 2005 change of law the term of copyright was the life of the author plus 50 years. Individual also donate their works to the public domain which means these works can be used under the terms of the website.

If Chris is to rely upon using images of the old paintings from the public domain, Chris needs to be 100% sure the images he found are within the public domain. A large number of images are dedicated to the public domain yet they still may carry terms of use or other attribution statement that clearly details they are public domain works.

An example of a Napoleon image that carries a public domain statement is:


Chris is also able to rely on the fair dealing provisions of the Australian Copyright Act (1968) to use the images as part of his research and study.