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I need a public domain image for use on a cover for a new edition of a book. I found an image I love, but I don't know if it's in the public domain, or if somebody (the artist, presumably) still holds the copyright.

Specifically, the image is this:

enter image description here

Is there a way, short of hiring Columbo or Rockford, to find out if a particular image is copyrighted?

I'm not sure this is the best place to ask this, but I asked a similar question on the Patents StackExchange site, and was told my (copyright) question was definitely not about patents (true, but they seem related to me).

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closed as off-topic by Kruug, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Heptite, random Jan 22 '14 at 22:19

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center." – Kruug, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Heptite, random
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I would go to the site that the image is from and check their copyright. Maybe even contact the owner/webmaster from that site in hopes that they can point you to where they got their permission from. – Kruug Jan 20 '14 at 19:32
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use "Google search by image":

Click in the cam icon, and upload your photo or paste the url.

With this, and a bit of time, you can search the image source.

Pd: All images are by default, copyrighted in the United States

Pd2: Scott-mckowen is the illustrator of this book

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1) The illustrator of a book isn't always the same person as the drawer of the cover. 2) The illustrator may not own the copyright - it is often held by the publisher. – Judith Jan 20 '14 at 19:42

For the most part you can't, and you should assume any image you find is copyrighted unless it's specifically attributed as public domain.

Having said that, one service that does a image copyright search is PicScout.

After uploading an image by using either the drag and drop or upload feature, PicScout Search finds the image stored in the PicScout Platform and provides a link to the image’s license.

This seems to require the owner of the image actually registering it with PicScout, but hey it's one place to check.

Additional info on the subject:

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