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Auction House Paperwork

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:19 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Hi Andy

Sorry - me again!

I have moved on to another item for our little exhibition, and was wondering about the possibility of displaying a sales brochure/auction leaflet for an auction that took place in 1921. It has been used and heavily annotated by the person who, presumably, ended up buying the property.

I am assuming that this will be covered by some kind of copyright (although the auction house itself is long gone - the last surviving member of the family died in 1958, and his wife in 1959). Unfortunately, it has interesting information on both sides of the page, although I'm guessing that I would not be able to copy one side to display alongside the original 'other side'?

Is this another 70 years copyright job, or does functional paperwork have a different set of rules? Probably grasping at straws here....

Very many thanks for your help.

Best regards


Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:12 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Sally,

I don't imagine anyone is named as the author of the auction catalogue, nor of the handwritten notes, so we can safely say these are works by anonymous authors. This is a separate issue from the ownership of copyright which would, as you suggest, probably belong to the auction house.
So as we are dealing with anonymous authors, section 12 (3) comes into play:
(3) If the work is of unknown authorship, copyright expires—

(a) at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made, or

(b) if during that period the work is made available to the public, at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first so made available,
meaning that as publication of the catalogue occurred in 1921, and the handwritten notes were presumably made at about the same time, copyright in both can now be assumed to have ended.

Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:59 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Hi Andy

Lovely - that's the best news!

Thank you so much again for your sterling efforts - it's great to be able to sort these issues out and, where I can, put the items out for display so that someone actually gets to see them (not that we're expecting a great multitude of visitors - we will probably be fighting the refreshment counter for them).

Superb service and sensible, informative answers as always. Thank you.

Best regards