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Old 10-31-2006, 04:57 PM   #1
marlene
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Default Photo copyrights

An acquaintance told me she went to a quick-print photo lab, wanting to get a copy made of a family photo that was taken in 1958 or 1959. The photo lab wouldn't do it, because the name of the photographer's studio is on the back of the photo.

She told me the photographer has probably been dead for 40 years.

In any case, is it really illegal for her to get the photo copied?

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Old 10-31-2006, 11:52 PM   #2
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Maybe she should claim she's just making a backup copy. :-)

   
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Old 11-01-2006, 03:04 AM   #3
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This entry on Wikipedia might help.

The first question I would ask is if the studio itself still is in business?

If they do not have the negatives they should have no problems in giving permission to copy the photo. This must be on their official stationary and signed by someone.

   
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Last edited by Bo Aakerstrom; 11-01-2006 at 03:08 AM. Reason: correction
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Old 11-04-2006, 04:54 PM   #4
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Yeesh. Doesn't she have a friend with a good scanner and printer? I've been highly underimpressed with the quality of most of the rephotographed pictures I've seen. My husband does far better taking a good (slide film) picture of pictures if they're matte, as many studio prints are. So does my scanner.

I suppose she doesn't want to black out or scrape off the photographer's stamp (and take it to another studio)?
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Old 11-05-2006, 01:32 PM   #5
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A true story I knoew aabout is someone who took some pics for a small company which they used in a small publication -Some years later the photographer went on hols tom South Africa and on Billboards all over the place was his pics - he contacted the company in the UK. They had achoice as "the Bovverhood" would say - pay the money or no one would ever take pics for u again - and the paid the guy £100K
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Old 11-07-2006, 08:27 AM   #6
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Default Makes No Sense

Copyright would be a factor if she planned to publish the photo, but it sounds like she wants this for personal use.

Also, wouldn't the original photo be classified as "work for hire", in which case the "copyright" would lie with the family member who paid for it?

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Originally Posted by marlene View Post
An acquaintance told me she went to a quick-print photo lab, wanting to get a copy made of a family photo that was taken in 1958 or 1959. The photo lab wouldn't do it, because the name of the photographer's studio is on the back of the photo.

She told me the photographer has probably been dead for 40 years.

In any case, is it really illegal for her to get the photo copied?

mxh
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Old 11-07-2006, 08:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sid Dean View Post
Copyright would be a factor if she planned to publish the photo, but it sounds like she wants this for personal use.

Also, wouldn't the original photo be classified as "work for hire", in which case the "copyright" would lie with the family member who paid for it?
Copyright doesn’t work that way.

The photographer owns all rights unless he/she sold or gave them away in writing. That would include the right to duplicate the photo.

Admittedly, there are many practical problems if the photographer has died or gone out of business; in theory, the rights belong to heirs, but finding them might be close to impossible unless we’re talking about Ansel Adams or some other famous photographer. The woman is trying to preserve or pass on a memento from her family — hardly criminal behavior. But it may be technically a violation, and the photo-copyists may be reluctant to get in the middle of it.

Work-for-hire is a narrowly defined loophole that must also be dealt with explicitly. It was intended to allow an employer to retain rights to an employee’s work under certain circumstances: the creative idea has to come from the employer, and he must closely supervise the execution, probably on his premises and using his equipment.

It was widely abused, with freelancers often asked to sign a work-for-hire agreement that gave all rights to the employer regardless of the conditions of the work (even when using their own studio or office, their own equipment, selling their own creative work). That provoked some notorious losses in court for hirers. Nowadays we do not see too many of those work-for-hire clauses in contracts.

Instead the publisher or other hirer uses contracts to demand all rights in perpetuity for all media, known and unknown. Freelancers with clout can negotiate. Others just sign.

I am not a lawyer, but have been a freelance writer for more than 40 years, and have seen it all first-hand, from both sides of the table (when working as an editor).

   
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Old 11-07-2006, 10:11 AM   #8
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The photo lab are reluctant for more than one reason.

Strictly speaking it might be illegal.

Marlene's acquaintance might look like a "mystery shopper" to them as this is precisely the kind of scenario they use...

Back when I worked in a photo lab we used to get them on a regular basis and you don't want to get caught out.

   
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Old 11-07-2006, 01:01 PM   #9
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How about the right to make one backup copy under the whatsit act?

   
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Old 11-07-2006, 01:18 PM   #10
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How about the right to make one backup copy under the whatsit act?
That applies to software. Don’t think to photos, books, etc., though.

   
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