Multimedia and using artistic works

John is studying a two year Advanced Diploma in Multimedia course 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, John is seeking a means to use the works without having to seek permission.

As John has sourced the images from websites found on the internet, technically, John would need permission to use the images. Although the old paintings could be considered to be in the public domain, the images John 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 John 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 however, he has neither the time nor resources to fly overseas to photograph the work.

If John is to rely upon using images of the old paintings from the public domain, John needs to be 100% sure the images he found are within the public domain. A large number of images dedicated to the public domain to which they carry a 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:


John 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.