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Photographs in out of print books.
Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:50 am
I have an interest in certain historical events. Photographs from some of these events appear in old books ie. age 50 years plus. Can I scan these pictures for use in Powerpoint presentations to groups where there is no commercial gain? I am in the UK.
Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:13 pm
The normal duration of copyright in images is 70 years from 31 Dec of the year in which the copyright owner died, so the fact that these books are over 50 years old does not necessarily mean the images are now free of copyright and in the pubic domain.
To be sure that you avoid infringement you need to make a few inquiries to try establish the name of the photographer(s) involved and then try to establish if they are still alive, and if not, when they died and do the sums. You may have to do this research through the book's publishers, or you could try the main collecting society for photographers - the Design and Artists Copyright Socirty (DACS) www.dacs.org.uk/
to see if they have any record of the photographer(s) involved.
If all of this research proves fruitless, Section 104 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 says that the date of publication can be presumed to be the starting point for the purposes of calculating the duration of copyright. In other words if the book was first published in 1939 or earlier, then it would now be out of copyright, but if it was published in 1940 or later, copyright still exists until 70 years have elapsed.
One final point. If the book was subject to Crown copyright then slightly different rules apply. Basically, Crown copyright in any commercially published work lapses 50 years from the end of the year in which it was first published. If the Crown copyright work was never published (unlikely in this case) the copyright exist for 125 years from the date the document etc was made. If you think Crown copyright may be involved, I suggest you contact:
Office of Public Sector Information
Information Policy Team
Copyright on photographs in early book.
Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:21 pm
Thanks for the information. The photographs concerned (they are Royal Events) date back to 1924/5 and 1938. Who would hold the copyright, the original photographers, or the book publishers (published in 1952)?
Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:15 am
Copyright law changed somewhat during the twentieth century, so copyright in these photographs could be owned by the individual photographers, their employers (for instance the newspapers or magazines who had staff photographers) or copyright might have been assigned (that is, legally transferred) to some agency or publisher. I think your best bet is to contact the publishers if they still exist, as they should be able to point you in the right direction, or possibly, as they would have been licensed to use the images in the first place, they may be be able to authorise you to use the images.
Given the dates you mention it is quite possible that even the images taken in 1924 could still be in copyright, so you are right to make strenuous efforts to discover the copyright owners, since falling back on the provisions of Section 104 would not help you until 2023!
Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:53 am
Many thanks for your reply.