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Selling a photograph of a purchased print

 
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GeorgeB
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:40 pm    Post subject: Selling a photograph of a purchased print Reply with quote

Hi

Can anyone help me this copyright issue?

I recently bought a print from the British Musuem which I have had framed. I have taken a photograph of the framed print which I would like to use use on a piece of decoupage which I intend to sell. I normally use images that are clearly in the public domain and I conscientiously check their copyright status before selling the decoupage pieces. I also clearly label the images including details on where the original image currently resides.

Any help and guidance will be gratefully received.

Thank you.

George
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi George,

You don't mention what work the print is taken from, but if it is of an out-of-copyright work, then depending on whether the BM is claiming copyright in the digital print, you should be OK to make reproductions of the print. However if the underlying work is still in copyright, you should not make any copies of the print without permission.

The difficult bit is whether it is correct for the BM to assert (assuming that they are) that they own copyright in the print as an original work. If they are I would expect there to be a copyright notice on it somewhere. The reason this is problematic is that increasingly, various authorities are denying that copyright can exist in a mere facsimile copy of work such as your print, because it is unlikely to meet the newer test for originality set out by the Court of Justice for the European Union. This test says that in order for a work to gain copyright, it has to demonstrate the spirit of the creative mind of the author, and by definition, faithfully copying a previous work such as an Old Master or a piece of Etruscan pottery, leaves no room for the photographer's personal interpretation to be reflected in the second work.

The UK intellectual Property Office have recently issued updated guidance on this subject, in order to try and head off some of the more dubious claims being made by some museums and art galleries, intended to protect their merchandising revenue. Unfortunately since this issue has not been tested recently in the UK or European courts, the IPO guidance is the best we have to go on.
Quote:
Are digitised copies of older images protected by copyright?
Simply creating a copy of an image won’t result in a new copyright in the new item. However, there is a degree of uncertainty regarding whether copyright can exist in digitised copies of older images for which copyright has expired. Some people argue that a new copyright may arise in such copies if specialist skills have been used to optimise detail, and/or the original image has been touched up to remove blemishes, stains or creases.

However, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union which has effect in UK law, copyright can only subsist in subject matter that is original in the sense that it is the author’s own ‘intellectual creation’. Given this criteria [sic], it seems unlikely that what is merely a retouched, digitised image of an older work can be considered as ‘original’. This is because there will generally be minimal scope for a creator to exercise free and creative choices if their aim is simply to make a faithful reproduction of an existing work.

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GeorgeB
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy

Thank you for getting back to me - that was really helpful.

These are the details of the print from the BM shop website:

"The famous porcupine' by Frederick Hendrik Van Hove, 1672. This print is an advertisement and souvenir of an apparently 'famous' beast exhibited in London in the late 1600s. The displaying of imported animals in inns and coffee-houses was relatively new in Britain at this time, so this magnificently spiky porcupine, said to be from the West Indies, may well have caused a stir.........."

The print cost £20 unframed but I had it framed locally. I assume the BM owns the original. The pieces I create are roughly 150mm x 200mm. I use wood from skips then decoupage the image on to the wood which is then sold at art & craft fairs and I usually only create 1 of each subject.

As I said, I've taken a photo of the framed print and 'touched it up' using Photoshop but I am nervous about selling it unless I know I am not infringing anyone's copyright.

Thanks again

George
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks George.

I followed that link and I can see no claim by the British Museum to any copyright in their version. Obviously the original artwork itself by Frederick Hendrik Van Hove is out of copyright (indeed it is doubtful whether it was ever covered by copyright, which did not exist in Great Britain before 1710, and even then only for printed books).

A copyright notice is not strictly necessary, but given the contentious nature of this sort of reproduction, I think its absence here is telling. If you wanted to be entirely sure about what you want to do, you could check with the BM, but I think that, on the basis of what I have seen, there should be no problem with infringement in your decoupage project.
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GeorgeB
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy

Thanks again. I probably will use this image in my project.

Thanks for your help and have a good Christmas.

George
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