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Thread: Copyright laws

  1. #1
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    Copyright laws

    Hi

    Id like to include some photos in artwork Im doing, maybe to sell one day.

    These pictures are old, around 1910.I just wonderd if somebody could give me a clear indication of the copyright laws as to wether I can use them for commercial gain.
    Ive looked at many copyright sites, I read a bit of relevant info then I read some thing else that contradicts it.Please help.



    Thanks



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    I think it only lasts 75 years. Like you can make recordings of orchestras playing Wagner and you don't have to pay any royalties.

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    I think it only lasts 75 years. Like you can make recordings of orchestras playing Wagner and you don't have to pay any royalties.
    That is as far as I know not correct (but I don't know if it's that way everywhere in the world). The orchestras' performance of Wagner is imho copyright protected so you may not simply record and sell it. However nobody would hinder you to take the notes that Wagner wrote and create your own performance of it (be it with a real or "virtual" orchestra or whatever else) which you then sell because you own the copyright on it. That in turn will mean that noone else may use your performance and make money off it unless you allowed them.

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    Rob
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    Question one should be "where do you live?" Copyright laws are locally specific which is why you've encountered contradictory advice.

    I would recommend contacting a lawyer friend (do lawyers have friends?) or a citizen's advise type place and getting someone to answer for your country/state/area. It's a very simple question, but look out as people are all too willing to just make up what they think sounds right!

    IMO if you have a print and it's from that era, then it would be nice to try and trace the people in it (who are probably dead) and families to see what they think - many would probably welcome you using the pictures. From that era, it seems unlikely that you'd be getting yourself in trouble, but it's worth finding out properly.

    Rob

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    when I was in grad school we had to look up the copyright laws. In the US (as of 10 years ago), if memory serves correct, things are copyrighted for life +50, which means that it's still in copyright up to 50 years after the author/creator's death...but this does not include things that continue to be copyrighted under the estate or corporation...for instance, I don't think that Micky Mouse will ever go out of copyright, even 100 years after Walt's death.

    Wagner's work, like Shakespeare's, is now in the public domain. That means that you can take their work and reproduce it without paying royalties...HOWEVER, that DOES NOT mean you can take the New Folger Shakespeare Library's 1999 copy of Romeo & Juliet and reproduce it, because that particular version is copyrighted (actually only their "adjustments" and notes to the original text are). Likewise, a CD of the Boston Pops of the London Philharmonic (SP) playing Wagner is copyrighted to that company, even though the notes that Wagner wrote are public...no two musicians or conductors are going to play the notes exactly the same, so their creativity and artistic interpretation is what is copyrighted.

    Again, this is 10 year old memory talking, and Rob is right, you should definitely contact a copyright lawyer, or if you are in the US, contact the Library of Congress.

    Also, where are you getting the pictures from? If they are in a collection or archives, the owner/curator should know if you are allowed to use them for personal gain. Again, the Library of Congress' material is all public (well, not all, but the stuff I use is), and the only thing you need to do is provide proper citation of its location in the LOC collection.

    Hope that helps.
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    Thanks for your info everybody.

    Im in the uk.
    I got some of the pictures off the net(I asked the site owner if I could print/use them), they are around 100 years old.

    I also have some postcards I bought from an antiques fair dated 1904 which Id like to use.

    I just went into town and I took them to a photocopying shop and asked if I could photocopy them, use them in artwork then sell them on, the lady thought it was 75 years but checked with a colleague, he firmly said 50 years.
    I thought if anyone should know it would be a photocopying shop.

    She agreed the laws were complicated but mine were well over 50 years old and they were ok to use.

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    Rob
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    Good God, it's complicated... To summarise, the answer is 50 years, as the work was created before 1st June 1957. I've italicised the sections for you..

    Term of Protection

    The length of copyright protection for works is a potential minefield in international law. Applying it to purely national law is also extremely difficult in some circumstances. Each of the types of works eligible for protection under the 1988 Act has a different term of protection, further complicated by the amending legislation to the Act. Copyright protection always expires at the end of the calendar year concerned.


    Crown Copyright, Parliamentary Copyright and Copyright of International Organisations

    Within the United Kingdom, the term of protection offered by Crown copyright, Parliamentary copyright, copyright of Acts and Measures and that of international organisations is separate from that of ordinary copyright works. Copyright in a bill in Parliament, the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly subsists from the moment a bill is introduced into the legislature to the moment it either fails to pass or receives Royal Assent. The copyright of Acts and Measures subsists from Royal Assent until 50 years later. Parliamentary copyright of a literary, dramatic, musical or dramatic work subsists until 50 years after the making of the work. Crown copyright of published literary, dramatic or musical works expires 50 years after publication. Crown copyright of unpublished works expires the later of 125 years from creation or 31 December 2039. The latter provision is a transitional measure from the 1988 Act because that Act abolished perpetual copyright protection for unpublished materials. It is 50 years after the commencement of the 1988 Act plus the usual for expiration extension to the end of the year.
    Crown copyright for artistic works is more complicated and is entangled in special treatment given to engravings and photographs. For artistic works made after the commencement of the 1988 Act, the rule is the same as for other works, 50 years after publication or 125 years after creation. An engraving created before commencement and published after commencement is in copyright for 50 years after publication. Copyright of an engraving created before commencement and unpublished expires at the end of 2039. Photographs taken between 1 June 1957 and commencement and published expire 50 years after publication. Photographs taken between 1 June 1957 and commencement and unpublished expire at the end of 2039. Photographs taken before 1 June 1957 expire 50 years after creation. Copyright of international organisations subsists for 50 years from creation.

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    Ecky thump.


    So I could print off any picture from any site and use it for commercial gain as long as it was taken 50+ years ago??!!

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    Rob
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baker
    Ecky thump.


    So I could print off any picture from any site and use it for commercial gain as long as it was taken 50+ years ago??!!
    I wouldn't advise it... re-read the first bit in italics - it's complicated and entangled. It is very likely that the action of digitising an image for a website comprises either artistic treatment and/or that the original owner of the digitised work has rights over it.

    Always ask first and always keep the written permission and it's likely you won't go far wrong.

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polygon
    That is as far as I know not correct (but I don't know if it's that way everywhere in the world). The orchestras' performance of Wagner is imho copyright protected so you may not simply record and sell it. However nobody would hinder you to take the notes that Wagner wrote and create your own performance of it (be it with a real or "virtual" orchestra or whatever else) which you then sell because you own the copyright on it. That in turn will mean that noone else may use your performance and make money off it unless you allowed them.
    I mean you don't have to pay the Wagner estate. Whereas if you got the music for a recent release and sang it and released it that would be copyright infringement.

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    Help!!Its as clear as mud!

    So if I stick to the type of postcards I have dated 1904 Im safe?!

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    OK...Rule of thumb...If it's before Stravinsky's time, you're probably OK. He was one of the first people to really do the copyright thing correctly, and is still copyrighted. Stuff from 1910 is probably no longer under copyright. The current law is actually life of the artist+70 (not 50) years, but the law went into effect after the corpright for those photos probably expired. I'd do some more research on it, but you should be able to use them.

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    Like some have mentioned it is very "muddy" I have read copyright laws from the federal copyright web site and like many federal regulations and laws it is very vaig or hard to pin point. But basically if you have photos dating back to the early 1900's they are except from any law the date of the photos are so old that chances are no one is still alive who could actually claim ownership.

    just an example, french risque postcards of the 1920's and earlier are big sellers on ebay and some sell copies or reproductions of those photos on ebay so that proves somewhat you don't have to worry about any legal problems using those for your own.

  14. #14
    Rob
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baker
    Help!!Its as clear as mud!

    So if I stick to the type of postcards I have dated 1904 Im safe?!
    Yes (in the UK), assuming the taker of the photo is dead and hasn't taken any further copyright action after the 1957 revision or the 1988 revision!

    You're probably fine with old postcards, especially that old. Go for it.

    Rob

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    Didn't I suggest a TPF bail fund? I think I did...and everyone laughed at me.

    See, I was right!!
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