Help with copyright laws on 1800's photos???

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by BrainFlash, May 30, 2009.

  1. BrainFlash

    BrainFlash TPF Noob!

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    Hello. If I have the wrong forum I apologize!


    I have a large collection of 1800's photographs with very little to no photog/owner info on them. I also have a giant headache reading through the contridicting info on copyright for them.


    I am going out on a limb here and I am hoping this awesome forum might have an answer for me or a few good links that give a clearer view? :hail:



    Thank you all for your time! :mrgreen:
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What are you wanting to do that makes you ask about the copyrights?

    I *think* that US law is that copyrights expire 70 years after the death of the author, so - you're probably safe.
     
  3. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    The one thing that every copyright authority agrees on is that two authorities agree on anything else about copyright.

    There are many factors that come into play with old photographs:

    1. Copyright laws have changed many times.
    2. They vary from country to country.
    3. With very few exceptions, once a work becomes public domain it can't be re-copyrighted as is.

    Under US law, the copyrights on all original works of art prior to 1921 have expired and the work is in the public domain. If your 19th century images are old prints then you're probably in the clear to reproduce them. If they are newer prints, that print might be considered a new work, provided some additional "art" has been inflicted on the original image. A modern retouched and restored version of the image might be able to carry a new copyright.
     
  4. RJohnston

    RJohnston TPF Noob!

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    Unfortunately or fortunately many times important photo have had renewals of copyrights by the estate of the original copyright holder. This is good for them, bad for the person who uses them when they are still under a copyright.

    Make sure to do the research in copyright archives.
    Under new laws I believe, sometimes the only thing necessary is if the family has had them republished which effectively updates the copyright.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Be wary of copyright information you receive online. Most of it is well intentioned but highly suspect.

    Current copyright law went into effect in 1978 (Title 17 of the United States Code) and applies to all photographs made since and those earlier photographs still under copyright. That was an update to the copyright laws of 1909.

    Your best sources for accurate information are a copyright attorney or the U. S. Copyright Office, www.copyright.gov .

    Until 1989, if a photograph was published without a copyright notice the copyright was terminated and the image was considered to be in the public domain.

    An example of some of the info available from the U. S. Copyright Office pertaining to copyright renewal:

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 27, 1998, President Clinton

    signed into law the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Pub. L.

    105-298, extending for an additional 20 years the term of copyright

    protection in the United States. This law increased the extended

    copyright renewal term under section 304 of the copyright law, from

    forty-seven years to sixty-seven years. These technical amendments add

    a reference to Pub. L. 105-298 and substitute sixty-seven years in

    places where the renewal regulation designates forty-seven years.
     
  6. raptorman

    raptorman TPF Noob!

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    Before a decent answer can be given, you need to give some more information. Were the pictures ever published, if so, when and where? Do you know who the author(s) were and when they died? Do you know when the work was created? If you don't have exact dates, was it before or after 1889?
     
  7. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :scratch:
     
  8. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

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    I would say yes, just because most are so far removed, from reasonable expectation, that you should be fine.
     

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