Copyright Aid Forum Index
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in   Main siteC A Main Site 

Old Postcards, public domain and copyright

 
   Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Copyright Law

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Copyright Law
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Hallaton1
New Member
New  Member


Joined: 18 Oct 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:36 am    Post subject: Old Postcards, public domain and copyright Reply with quote

Hello

I have read several posts on here all of which are very useful. I am probably being rather dim but I hope someone on here can clarify things.

I want to include some reproductions of postcards in a book I am putting together for the purposes of local history. I have two basic scenarios.

1 Postcards issued pre 1925 which show no indication to either publisher or photographer. Am I correct in understanding from what I have read on here that these are essentially out of copyright as there is no realistic chance of being able to track down the photographer or the original publisher? I own the actual postcards I want to copy.

2 Postcards of the same period which were sold for commercial gain by the photographer/publisher. Here I am not clear at all. I understand that copyright exists for 70 years after the author/photographer's death as long as it was still in copyright when the 50 years was extended to 70. However, I have also read something about published images before 1923(?). There seems to be some suggestion that these are now considered to be in the public domain and thus free of copyright. Does the commercial sale of postcards equal publication and thus does this public domain rule apply? Personally I would say that commercial sale of postcards = publication but I really don't know.

3 How does copyright apply to postcards published overseas. I am especially interested in postcards published both in Greece in WWI (by French companies) and also in India/Pakistan for the same period. Not sure where to go with these.

Apologies for the long question. Any guidance gratefully received.
Thanks
max
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle


Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1573

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Hallaton,
I am glad you have already seen some of the earlier postings on this subject as it will save me having to repeat quite a lot of complicated details.
The first thing to appreciate is that with most postcards, the image on them is taken from a photograph, and under the 1911 Copyright Act, photographs were treated differently to other types of copyright work. That is to say photographs were protected for 50 years from when they were taken, whereas the term for other works was for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years. On that basis a photographic postcard from 1925 or earlier should now be out of copyright.
Clearly where the postcard bears an image other than a photograph, working out the current copyright status is more complicated, but if there are no details of the photographer or publisher, then the law treats such works as anonymous, as follows:
Quote:
57 Anonymous or pseudonymous works: acts permitted on assumptions as to expiry of copyright or death of author.

(1) Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is not infringed by an act done at a time when, or in pursuance of arrangements made at a time when—
    (a) it is not possible by reasonable inquiry to ascertain the identity of the author, and

    (b) it is reasonable to assume—

      (i) that copyright has expired, or

      (ii) that the author died 70 years or more before the beginning of the calendar year in which the act is done or the arrangements are made.
Since you didn't indicate that your postcards were of the non-photographic variety, that probably doesn't apply here.

On the subject of publication, any offering to the public, for sale or for free (say, by lending library etc) constitutes publication.
However if a person drew a funny cartoon on a blank postcard and posted it to a friend via the public mail service, that would not amount to publication.
The bit about 1923 only applies in the USA. Their 1976 Copyright Act had to achieve a number of changes, including removing copyright jurisdiction from the individual states and bringing it totally under federal control, plus it marked the changeover from a complicated registration process with fixed terms, to the now widely used system based on the author's lifetime plus a certain amount of years post mortem. To do this there had to be a number of transitional arrangements for existing works. Since the old registration system allowed for no more than two consecutive 28 year periods (ie a total of 56 years), the date of 1 January 1923 was taken as the cut off, because anything published before that point, whether registered correctly or not, would be out of copyright on 1 January 1978 when the Copyright Act came into force. The result of this for the UK is that if the postcard was first published in the USA, UK law would not provide a longer term of protection than was available in the USA.

As for postcards published elsewhere in the world, the important thing to check is whether the country of origin is a member of the Berne Convention or the Universal Convention on Copyright (virtually all major countries are), since this would determine whether or not the UK courts had to recognise any copyright whatsoever. And as mentioned with regard to the USA, the UK term of protection for such works would be the shorter of the two between the UK term and the term available in the country of origin.
Quote:
Where the country of origin of the work is not an EEA state and the author of the work is not a national of an EEA state, the duration of copyright is that to which the work is entitled in the country of origin, provided that does not exceed the period which would apply [to works originating in the UK] (source: CDPA section 12 (6))
The reference to the European Economic Area (EEA) means that cards originating from France or Greece (both of which are in the EEA) are treated exactly as if they had been first published in the UK. I don't have enough knowledge of the details of the Indian and Pakistani copyright law to know exactly how each of them deal with older works, but since India (including what is now Pakistan) was part of the British Empire at the time, the 1911 UK Copyright Act applied there in a modified form until Independence in 1947, which is when Pakistan also became a separate state. Even after independence, Indian copyright law continued to closely mirror that of the UK, with their 1957 Act based largely on the UK's 1956 Act. Today both counties apply a shorter post mortem period: India has 60 years pm, and Pakistan has 50 years.
_________________
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Hallaton1
New Member
New  Member


Joined: 18 Oct 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy

Thank you very much for your reply. That certainly clears up most things. I just want to double check a couple of things.
The majority of postcards I am using are photographic.
Some have no publisher.
Bur for eg. I have postcard commercially produced in 1915 by a local photographer who was well known in the area. He died in 1964 but stopped producing postcards in the 1930s. His name etc is listed on the back of the postcard. From reading the other threads I thought I would need to seek the copyright holder if any exist but because it is pre 1925 I don't need to do this??

Some postcards are held on websites I have approached the owners of these sites who have given me the ok to use the images. Where does the responsibility lie with these? In some cases I can't see the back of the cards.

Many thanks
max
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle


Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1573

PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again hallaton,
As far as the 1915 card by the known photographer is concerned, I think you will be all right in assuming the copyright in the photograph ended in in 1955 (or earlier), and so there is no need to consider seeking permission.
And I would be very wary of assurances from users of other images of postcards*. Unless they are the owners of the copyright or are prepared to indemnify you against liability by means of a written affidavit, you would have no defence should the real owner of the copyright claim infringement. That said if the postcards are from the same era as the ones you have mentioned, then in all probability they too will be out of copyright if they feature photographs.


* the situation rather reminds me of the old joke: A man approaches another who is standing with a dog. First man asks the second man "Does your dog bite?" "No", says the second man. First man bends down to stroke the dog where upon the dog bites him. First man, angrily: "I thought you said your dog didn't bite!". Second man: "That's not my dog".
_________________
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Copyright Law All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1
 

You must be logged in to post  Log inLog in
Want to join in? New members are always welcome  RegisterRegister & join the discussion

 

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group