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Digitizing 1960s music magazines

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:30 am
by paul-c

After much unfruitful searching on the copyright status of magazines such as Melody Maker and New Music Express I thankfully chanced upon this forum. After reading some posts relating to magazine copyright I understand that under UK law the magazines are under copyright until at least 70 years after the contributing authors have died. So it's pretty clear I can not make them available as I hoped as digital publications - ie text-searchable PDF files and/or ebooks.

I have hundreds of these magazines and I'd like to put them out there so people can read them rather than have them forever locked away unseen. They provide a nice snapshot of the 1960s British music scene - jazz, folk and rock/pop. To my question...

If I were to make videos of the magazines with a camera moving around reading them page by page, article by article would it be possible to upload the resulting videos of the magazines to a video sharing site like Youtube without infringing copyright? For each magazine I'd be making a (basic - I'm not a film maker) 20-40 minute movie, the concept being the camera shows what the eyes of a reader sees reading the magazine from cover to cover. The aim here is not to circumvent copyright laws - the aim is to share these historical documents with anyone who wants to read them because they are not available anywhere else.

Thanks in advance if anyone has an opinion on this - it's a bit of a weird one I suppose...

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:19 pm
by Nick Cooper
There are no two ways about it - what you propose would still be an infringment. More to the point, the two titles you mention are included in this resource, so it's unlikely that any form of perceived competition would go unnoticed.

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:04 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Paul,
Nick is absolutely correct. You would fall foul of this specific provision of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act:
17 Infringement of copyright by copying.

(1) The copying of the work is an act restricted by the copyright in every description of copyright work; and references in this Part to copying and copies shall be construed as follows.

(2) Copying in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work means reproducing the work in any material form.

This includes storing the work in any medium by electronic means.
(my added emphasis)

Digitizing 1960s music magazines

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:40 pm
by paul-c
Thanks Nick for the reply - it's good to see all of the mags have been digitized although Proquest aren't exactly making their resources accessible to the average punter. Pop magazines shouldn't have to be locked up within academia like this - all a bit silly.. Proquest have the entire runs of the publications and I imagine produce high quality digital copies. It's not like I'll be a threat with a few dodgey copies knocked out with a cheap camera and a few open source tools to do the conversion and ocr etc..

So much for wanting to share what I have with others. I could offer the paper magazines for $30 each on ebay so someone else can lock them away in a dark cupboard but if I offer to give away digital copies I'm prohibited. It's not like anyone is going to lose out on their wages from me making a magazine bought for a few cents from a newsagent in Australia in 1962 available for people to read.. Anyway.. enough of my off topic sentiments..

Thanks again Nick for the info. This forum really is a great resource! I'll get back to my 19th century Australian newspaper compilation idea - on safe copyright free ground there..

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:47 pm
by paul-c
Thanks AndyJ - crystal clear.

I'll just have to invite people to park benches at designated times where they can sit and read the paper magazines - won't get into trouble that way...

Digitizing 1960s music magazines

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:41 am
by paul-c
I have read the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (thanks to AndyJ) and understand according to Section 20 - "Infringement by communication to the public" making the magazines available on a video sharing website is clearly prohibited.

Especially in light of Section 20 (2) (b):
the making available to the public of the work by electronic transmission in such a way that members of the public may access it from a place and at a time individually chosen by them
This is very clear and I fully understand that in providing a video of a magazine I'd be infringing copyright. As a new member I am prohibited from posting links in this forum but section 20 is easily found at the site posted by AndyJ.

I now have a broad question regarding the definition of the term "work" used throughout the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. In the context of magazines "literary work" is the domain in question. Does "literary work" apply to the entirety of the magazine including every item within it? In other words is the magazine in and of itself considered a single literary work? Or is each article, review, interview, opinion piece etc contributed by a music journalist, critic or the like a "literary work"?

What about items such as the following:

* Reader's letters appearing in the magazines
* Gig guides - ie what's on at The Marquee on January 14 1967 etc
* Advertisements for musical instruments on sale at a particular shop
* Classified ads asking for band members - ie bass player wanted by band

My guess is to think that the owners of the copyright have exclusive rights over "everything" in the magazine but as I know nothing of copyright issues I thought I'd ask to gain some certainty. I'd appreciate it very much for some information about this.

Thanks in advance, Paul.

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:51 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Paul,

Sorry, I seem to have missed your follow-up post until now.

Magazines and newspapers etc are generally referred to as compilations*, and can contain both literary (anything which is written) and artistic works (drawings, photographs, graphics etc). Each individual article, advert etc will have a copyright term based on the law applicable at the time in the country of first publication. In addition, in the UK, the whole issue is entitled to a publisher's copyright (which lasts for 25 years from the date of publication) and applies to the typographical layout.
In many instances the publisher will have bought up the rights from each individual contributor (although not advertisers) so that they can control thing like syndication or re-publication etc without needing to refer back to dozens of freelance writers, artists and photographers. Employees of the publisher automatically have their copyright transferred to their employer. You will probably find some small print somewhere in the magazine about what applies to reader's letters and classified advertisements, but generally speaking copyright would normally be retained by the writer, but broad rights would be 'given' to the publisher about what might be done with the submission. For example a reader's letter might be edited for length or clarity, and the reader would have no comeback. That situation is broadly similar to the terms and conditions which apply to most forums and social media sites on the internet.

* US law has a slightly different method of dealing with compilations, compared to the UK. See this circular from the US Copyright Office (pdf)

Digitizing 1960s music magazines

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:56 am
by paul-c
Thanks AndyJ.

All of this advice gives me a good basic understanding of the copyright status of what I previously considered ephemera from the past - ie magazines and advertising etc. It's interesting that there's an elaborate legal framework covering such things and I was unaware of this.

Thanks again - I've been prevented from shooting myself in the foot.. :roll: