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Advertisements in old magazines and theatre programmes

Posted: Sat May 16, 2020 9:18 pm
by zxzoomy
I submit photos I take to a stock photo agency for potential sale. I also sell old theatre programmes from the 1930's onwards. Some of the programmes include interesting advertisements. If I wanted to copy these and submit them as archival images to the agency, is there a date, like with old photos, that these adverts fall out of copyright?

Re: Advertisements in old magazines and theatre programmes

Posted: Sun May 17, 2020 8:20 am
by AndyJ
Hi zxzoomy,

The normal copyright rules apply to both the graphics and the wording found in adverts. As you are aware photographs which appear in adverts need to be treated differently, but any hand-drawn artwork and any text will be subject to usual the lifetime plus 50 (later, 70) years copyright term. However since in most cases the artists and copywriters concerned are going to be anonymous, you can apply the special rule set out in section 12 (3) & (4) of CDPA:
(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,
subject as follows.

(4) Subsection (2) applies if the identity of the author becomes known before the end of the period specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (3).
On that basis, any advert which was published before 1950 should be in the public domain.

If you wanted to copy adverts where the date of first publication was difficult to ascertain, but it seems likely to be later than 1950, you could obtain an orphan works licence from the IPO which would indemnify against any claims of infringement. The Museum of Brands may be able to help with dating a particular ad campaign for more famous brands.

You should bear in mind that digitally reproducing a work which is now in the public domain is unlikely to create a new copyright in your image, and so once it is made available via the stock image website you would potentially lose any exclusive right to sell the image, although the stock site will no doubt claim copyright exists because they can, despite it not being true (see page 3 of this IPO Copyright Notice).

Re: Advertisements in old magazines and theatre programmes

Posted: Sun May 17, 2020 7:44 pm
by zxzoomy
Thank you so much, Andy. That is really helpful.