Valrico, FL asked in Copyright for Florida

Q: I have a question about Peter Rabbit images and public domain. Here is the message from penguin books.

I did research Peter Rabbit and it does appear that they entered the public domain in 2014. I find their response a little ambiguous. " New Iterations" "adaptations", also "protect several trademarks". There's not an answer if and what images are free to use. I thought if they entered Public domain, they are free to use.

Here is the response from Penguin books

Thanks for your email, the Beatrix Potter illustrations characters copyright have renewed through new iterations and adaptations of the copyright. Furthermore, Frederick Warne and Co limited also own and protect several trade marks on Peter Rabbit character.

I hope that answers your question.


Penguin Random House

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1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC

A: If an original work enters the public domain, this does not cover derivative or subsequent works based on that original work. So, Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is in the public domain. But that does not mean that a photograph taken of the Mona Lisa is necessarily in the public domain, the photographer would hold the rights to that photograph.

Was the image published before 1923? Then it's probably in the public domain. Is the image you'd like to use a recreation or redrawing, published after 1923, of some other image (which may or may not have been published before 1923)? Then the artist who created the derivative work probably still has an interest in that work.

Asking yourself why 1923 or looking for more information?

The Stanford University Libraries has a great introduction to the laws relating to the public domain under U.S. copyright law at:

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