One of the five designs picked as a “finalist” for the “State Quarter” may have to be scrapped. A State Quarter Commission chose Grant Wood’s painting “American Gothic” as one of five designs which could be picked to grace the back of the Iowa Quarter. Department of Cultural Affairs director Anita Walker says they’ve run into a copyright problem. Walker says the manager of VAGA, which owns the copyright, will not allow the state to put Wood’s image of that dour man and woman on the State Quarter. Walker says the argument is that if “American Gothic” were to appear on the quarter, that would place it in the public domain and the copyright-holder wouldn’t be able control its use in the future. Walker says there’s still a question about whether VAGA actually holds the copyright. The State Quarter Commission will meet by telephone at 8:30 this morning to discuss the problem. VAGA is the group which represents the artist’s heirs. If the painting’s used for commercial purposes, VAGA collects royalties and distributes the profits to Wood’s family.
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