For those of you who need last minute Valentine’s Day cards you’re in luck. Two sites, the New York Public Library and the West Virginia University History Center have vintage Valentine’s Day card collections. The WVU site actually allows you to send a card to a recipient. These cards/images are in the public domain since they were created before 1923 and are free to use. Materials created after 1923 may be in the public domain if they meet certain criteria such as having the appropriate copyright notice or not having their copyright status renewed – requirements under copyright law in the past. Here is a useful chart by Peter Hirtle from Cornell University that can help you determine whether a particular item is within the public domain. Remember that other materials such as most materials created by the federal government are in the public domain as well even if created recently and are free to use.
One of the most famous American and iconic works of art with a love theme – Robert Indiana’s – Love (1966) – was denied copyright protection as copyright protection is generally not afforded to short phrases or titles – even if it was executed in a distinctive font and design.
And finally a list of reasons from the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center on why you should love fair use.