Re: copying photos

John C. La Rue, Jr. <MOFWCABOOSE@...>

Before Mike shuts this discussion  down, allow a few comments from someone on the other side of the table:
I own a pretty large collection of negatives, from which I make prints for sale. The negatives were from all sources. Many I took myself. Many were acquired by purchase. Many were acquired by trade. And some were just given to me. Most are original negatives. Some are copy negatives.
There is no trouble with the ones I took myself.
The ones I acquired by purchase and trade can pose problems. There is no guarantee that they are the only negatives of that particular subject, at that time and place. Until the early 1970s there was a lively business of swapping negatives between photographers, thus obviating the need to travel long distances. Thus, there could be as many as six or eight identical negatives out there. It does not follow that they are available as prints. Most of the photographers I traded with are deceased, and their negative collections have been either thrown away, sold, or are inactive. The same caveats apply to negatives that were purchased.
Copy negatives are a peculiar problem. They are common for rare, old, or narrow-gauge subjects. They used to be made by the old-fashioned silver halide process, and those were usually easy to spot. But the rise of the electronic age has led to a proliferation of copy negatives, mostly made by scanning original prints. I know for a fact that at least one of mine was copied. They electronically altered the car number, but left my negative number still plainly visible in the corner!
The big loss is data. The resulting negatives are sold on e-bay with date or locations (in addition to the aforementioned alteration) either missing or incorrect, thus rendering them useless, or at best, misleading, as a source of information for historians or model builders. Prints made from them are thus immediately suspect.
Also suspect are negatives from people who deliberately altered the data on them, either because they didn't know, or because they could charge a higher price if the negatives were perceived to be older. In extreme cases the results were absurd.
I devote a good deal of attention to getting the proper data on the back of the prints I sell. But the difficulties mentioned above simply make the task more difficult, as well as making the question of who owns the copyright even more amorphous. The only thing I can do is take the attitude that if I own the negative, I can print it and sell the print. As an old friend once put it: "Negatives do no good sitting in envelopes."
I might add: this question of copyright ownership did not use to be a problem.
John C. La Rue, Jr.
Bonita Springs, FL

-----Original Message-----
From: ed_mines@... [STMFC]
Sent: Tue, Jun 9, 2015 1:57 pm
Subject: [STMFC] copying photos

I'm a little uncomfortable about making photocopies of photos when the seller is still active but it's hard to know who's still active and some prints don't have any information on the back.

Ed Mines

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