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Would this infringe copyright (1939 poster reproduction)

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:34 pm
by MDMDMD2018
Hello All,

I wondered if anyone might be able to help address a query I have.

I found* a lovely original print from an old bus company that ran for a number of years out of the village where I currently live. The poster names changes to the bus timetable and locations as WW2 had just started (well, the phoney bit of it). I haven't come across anything like it before nor since and wanted to reproduce it - initially for some family, but then I thought others may quite like a copy of it. I could either get it reprinted on a proper old press (so a very close reproduction) or photoshop it and frame it, etc.

The bus company went out of business in the 1950's, the print shop named on the bottom of the poster no longer exists.

Thoughts/ideas most welcome!

Kind regards,

*I randomly found it 100s of miles away from the village in an old nautical junk shop; it's a thick card mounted on a piece of wood.

Re: Would this infringe copyright (1939 poster reproduction)

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:52 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Mike,

At the time this poster was created, presumably during 1939 since it reflects changes necessitated by the start of the Second World War, the applicable law on copyright was the 1911 Copyright Act. This Act said that copyright in an artistic work was to last for the lifetime of the author plus fifty years. However since we have no clue as to the identity of the artist, we can take advantage of section 12(3) of the present day Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 which says:
(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,
This means that copyright protection would have ended on 31 December 2009, and you can therefore freely use the work as you wish, provided, of course, that the identity of the artist doesn't subsequently become known, although that seems unlikely after all this time.

This also means that the question of who actually owned the copyright - probably the bus company at the time - is now irrelevant. That's just as well since it might have been very difficult to trace any possible successor company which took over the assets of the original bus company, given that many bus companies were nationalised by the 1947 Transport Act.

Re: Would this infringe copyright (1939 poster reproduction)

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:21 am
by MDMDMD2018
Hi Andy,

Thanks for your reply - you really are an Oracle!

That's very interesting re: 1947 Transport Act - the company in question just seems to have given it's route over to a bigger company around that time (I thought it was the 1950s for some reason) and then disappeared. There's no record of that company existing now (and there's a building firm now running out of their old address).

So I guess i'll have a go at making a few copies and see how they come out. If anyone suddenly appears to claim copyright, assuming they can prove it (?), i'll stop (or cease and desist...)

Thank you for your assistance!

Kind regards,