Re: Photos, copyright etc.

Tony Thompson

Claus Schlund wrote:


I am sending this on-list, and I hope it is OK to do that. I have a question regarding your post, and am seeking clarification. You
wrote "copyright must either be held by the displayer or copyright must be expired"
For purposes of posting to this list - at what point is copyright expired? How does one determine this, so one can know if it is OK
(or not) to post an image to the list?

      The broad answer is that anything copyrighted later than 1922 MAY still be in copyright if copyrights were renewed. Anything created later than 1978 IS copyrighted, automatically under the law. But photos are a special problem, if taken before 1978, because they were not then automatically copyrighted by the creator as they are today, and very few photographers bothered to register copyright for photos prior to 1978. If they were not copyrighted earlier, and you purchased the negative or original slide, AND you are sure no one else holds written transfer of copyright, it's yours, and in fact if the legitimate owner, YOU can copyright it now. That's why owning a print or slide copy conveys exactly NOTHING to you in the way of copyright, because there is an original somewhere. There ARE photos in the public domain, but you need to be sure. That's the case for many but NOT all railroad PR photos, for example. You have to check.
       The short answer, which Claus probably wants and Mike too, is that you need to be either (a) the original photographer, or (b) be able to offer PROOF you have rights to reproduce and/or publish an image, or (c) be able to prove public domain, before you can safely post on line. These are similar to the points made by Tom Madden in his post.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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