I have recently hired a company to build my brands logo. I have chosen a historical soldier as my logo. It is a solid colour with minor detail. For inspiration I viewed accurate historic painting of the specific soldier in uniform and used his pose/stance and uniform of the original painting to build my logo to make it look as realistic as possible while still creating a different image of solid colour.

The problem is the original painter is still alive and working, I’m not directly using his painting or work but am worried about being sued later on due to similarities. I am based in the UK.

Can anyone can hold rights of a historical character/soldier and there uniform?

What’s the difference between copyright with a painting and company logo? How different does the images have to be to not infringe on the original painting?

What rules intwine between UK and US copyright legislation?

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    Why not reach out to the creator for permission? Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I am not a solicitor/lawyer, and this answer doesn't constitute legal advice. If you want legal advice, then hire one.

Generally, in the UK copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator of the work, or if the creator is unknown, then 70 years from the date of publication.

Paintings and logos are covered by the same copyright laws that cover artistic works. There is no difference.

The soldier's uniform/historical character is not what is being copyrighted (i.e. the actual content in the scene of the painting), it's the artwork which is copyrighted. Although in at least one controversial court case recently, a photographer won his case by claiming copyright of a scene - you can read about it here. So basically, you can potentially be sued in the UK for copying the idea/composition of a scene.

TLDR: You can't legally copy it or use it to make derivative works, without the permission of the copyright holder.

You can find more detailed information on UK copyright law here


There is no such thing as "alter an image by X amount and it's okay".

No such thing. That provision does not exist. It's a myth, a misconception, fake news :).

If the original image can be gleaned from the new work, then it is probably an infringement. In that case, why use anything existing? Create your logo from ONLY original artwork not reference materials.

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