Does collage infringe other’s copyrights?

The DACS website says the following things and my thoughts are in red writing:

‘Collages by their very nature use existing images to create a new work, and therefore raise many questions about copyright.Generally speaking, an artist may incorporate other copyrighted works in a collage, provided they have sought permission from the copyright holder or the elements used are so small as to be unrecognisable.’

If this was reasonably feasible then nobody at all would make a collage.

‘It’s inadvisable to reproduce wholesale other copyrighted works in a collage.’

Fair enough. Prints are naff anyway.

‘A collage is an artistic work in its own right and will be protected by copyright, provided it is original.’


This statement appears to be abit ambiguous. Does this mean all the elements of the piece have to be original (ie. not nicked/borrowed) or does the piece have to be the thing actually stuck down ie. not a print?

‘The difficulties arise when you use elements or images of works created by other people. You should check whether any existing work used in a collage is protected by copyright. Works are protected by copyright for the lifetime of the artist who created them, plus a further 70 years after their death..

If this was reasonably feasible then nobody at all would make a collage.

‘If the work is protected, you should consider what you intend to do with the work. Reproducing the whole or a substantial part of any copyrighted work may infringe copyright.

But what is considered “substantial”? This is not worked out quantitatively, but qualitatively, and on a case-by-case basis. For instance, what appears to be a small element of an existing work might be considered substantial if it is particularly recognisable and integral to the new work.’

Okay so this is making more reasonable sense. As an example, if you just use a printout of the whole of Hockney’s ‘A bigger splash’ and stick it on another piece of paper just for the lolz, you’re probably a cunt.

‘If a work is out of copyright and in the public domain, it can be used in any manner or form in a collage without reference to another party. Artworks that are made in an industrial process and marketed in sufficient numbers may only be protected for a shorter period of 25 years…’

Sweet. Using old mags, catalogues and other mass produced ephemera appears perfectly fine dear sausages. (Except Disney, don’t use anything Disney or you’ll regret it).

If you think I’ve used something of yours, you think it’s not in the Public Domain and you can prove it beyond any doubt, please drop me a line and we’ll have a friendly chat about it. If you can’t prove it, jog on mate.

If you want to use my collages and make them into new collages (which I’ll probz find on a tshirt in Primark in a few years and will be ACTUALLY FUCKING CHUFFED ABOUT!) then you go Glen Coco. ONLY COLLAGES MADE BY ME ARE WORTH #bigmoney.

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