Can I reproduce and sell these photos? Copyright Question

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by RacePhoto, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    To keep this as simple as possible. I own four photographs that were taken in the late 1920's. They don't have any copyright information, and they are not marked. They are "wire photos" that were transmitted to a news service.

    If the 70 year copyright term rule is correct, then I can make copies of these, posters, or whatever use I want?

    I want to enlarge them and try to sell copies?

    I searched all over the web and just can't seem to find a solid answer. It appears that the original copyright has expired?
     
  2. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Geez after reading the copyright laws a bit I'm lost. :confused:

    And I quote...

    "In addition, the Act created a static seventy-five year term (dated from the date of publication) for anonymous works, pseudonymous works, and works made for hire.

    In 1998 the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended copyright protection to the duration of the author's life plus seventy years for general copyrights and to ninety-five years for works made for hire."

    Huh?

    Okay so I would think that the second part would be just for works that are copyrighted at the copyright office?

    I dunno, if you are selling them at local art shows and what not you may be able to slide with your own understanding of the law, but I'd consult an attorney if you plan to sell them on a national level.

    Soooo confusing... sorry I couldn't be any help.
     
  3. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I would ask this question to the wire services. Not sure what their response will be. Research the images. If it does belong to AP or Reuters or whatever let them know your intentions. Copyright laws are simple when all the parties involved know the story. Personally if the deal is dodgy in the least I will not go for it. Last thing I need to deal with is lawyers and lawsuits.

    Love & Bass
     
  4. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    I agree. I can't afford to pay a professional copyright attorney, to dig around and give an opinion, because until a case hits the court, it's just an opinion.

    The pictures came through Bell Telephone of Chicago, which doesn't exist, although AT&T still does. Could be a UPI photo? They are gone. Could be from a newspaper, most of which are gone. Could be from a European wire service, since one is Lindberg, on the ground in France and another is Gertrude Ederly swimming the English Channel... The third is probably the Graf Zeplin over the White House. All newsworthy at the time and sent via Wire Photo services back in the 20's. Back when sending a photo by wire was really something! :thumbup:

    You can see that it's a snake pit.

    Yes, I have read about the Sony Bono law and the Mickey Mouse laws (named for Disney studio's not the common term) But both of those apply to more modern works and didn't go back to the 20's, when they were put into effect. I don't know the retroactive period that was included.

    I bet we could find someone who taught Photography and the law and still not get a positive answer, because it's so complicated. :er:
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Sounds like you have done your homework. I wonder if "hey man I tried to find the owner..." holds up in court. At this point I would consider the image itself. If you think Steiglitz shot it I would not produce the poster. If it is a generic shot from 1920 go for it. Generic is the key word in that sentence. If there is a huge Macy's logo or something things may get dicey.

    Maybe post the shots.

    Love & Bass
     
  6. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    I did some more research. This is condensed from a collection of FAQs and articles. In fact it's pages and pages, reduced to the part that applies. :lol:

    Copyrights secured in the period 1931 through 1949 continue to
    exist only if they were renewed, and expire in the period 2006 through
    2024. Anything 1930 or before, the copyright has expired.


    Can't be much easier than that and two hours of reading. ;)

    The original term was 28 years (in the early 1900's) + 28 more if renewed, or 56 years, but it got extended, with a new copyright act in 1962, so the total possible term ended up being 75 years, not 56 years. (gets way more complicated, but that's what it is) If not renewed, 28 years for the dates in question 1906-1949.

    My photos were made in the late 1920's.

    If I did my research right and everything I read is correct. I can sell copies of the photographs. Oh by the way, once a copyright has expired, the work can not be protected again.

    I'm sure there's some clause about if the photo is part of a book or publication, then as a complete work, it's protected. Do we want to go into individual recipes, and how they aren't protected, but a cook book is protected? Same concept applies to a single photo that is out of date and a book of photos that are all beyond their term of copyright protection. The book is protected as a complete work. Individual photos are not. OK?
     
  7. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Go for it.

    Love & Bass
     
  8. TwistMyArm

    TwistMyArm TPF Noob!

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    Sounds like you might be okay, but I'd be sure to keep detailed records of all the copyright information that you've come across.
     

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