1901 family photograph - OK to publish?

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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rmlaws54
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1901 family photograph - OK to publish?

Post by rmlaws54 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:27 pm

I am editing a book for publication. I would like to include in it a copy of a 1901 family photograph that I own.

I don't know who the photographer was, but the photo carries the name of "Hewett's studio, Newcastle".

The photo has (I believe) never been published, although there are several copies of it with different family members.

If need be, I can argue that the photographer is likely to have died more than 70 years ago: a man who was 21 in 1901 would have a life expectancy lasting until 1935 (calculated using 1880 mortality tables). 70 years beyond that is 2005.

Is it safe for me to publish this photo without seeking further permissions?

thank you

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AndyJ
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Re: 1901 family photograph - OK to publish?

Post by AndyJ » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:28 pm

Hi rmlaws,

You are free to use the photograph as you wish. Firstly, under the 1911 Copyright Act, all photographs whether published or not, had a fixed copyright term of 50 years from the date they were made (ie the photograph was taken). Hence copyright in your particular photograph would have ended on 31 December 1951.

Furthermore, another provision in the same Act (section 5(a)), said that where a person commissioned the taking of the photograph, that person would be the owner of the resulting copyright unless there was some express provision to the contrary. Thus in all probability, one of your family members who paid for the sitting will have owned the copyright, which by the normal laws of inheritance would have passed down through to his or her heirs, until it expired in 1952..
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

rmlaws54
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Re: 1901 family photograph - OK to publish?

Post by rmlaws54 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:18 pm

Thank you that is very useful indeed.

My great grandfather paid for the photograph and I inherited his copy. So I suppose I own the copyright (except it has expired of course).

regards,

Robert

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