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Same image, different claims

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:04 pm
by Lumberjack
I found an image on an official Australian website (State Library of South Australia) that I would like to use in a proposed book. I am pretty certain that the image is at least 100 years old. The site clearly states "No known copyright restrictions - you do not need to seek permission to use this image!"
That is about as concise as you can get!
However, quite by chance, I found the same image in book, credited to a major British musuem who says in their terms and conditions that their images may not be used unless a hefty fee is paid to them!
Can I use the image safely? (The one I got from the Australian library website).

Re: Same image, different claims

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:00 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Lumberjack,

I think the key to this: who is claiming ownership of the copyright and are the two images from the same digital file? I'm assuming that you are talking about a newish digital reproduction of an original which over a hundred years old. As we have mentioned a number of times in other threads, theoretically the same original can have been scanned by several different institutions, some of whom will claim copyright in their scan while others won't. These copyright claims are highly dubious, legally speaking, because the scanning process usually involves little or no human creativity.

Anyway, back to your conumdrum. It could be that the State Library of South Australia has made its own copy and is releasing it free of copyright, whereas the UK museum has accessed or made a different digital copy and is reflecting the claim of the producer of the scan. Hence my advice to see if there is any identifying information about the copyright ownership.

However, long story short, no I don't think you need be concerned about using the South Australia image. I doubt if a respected institution like that would make an erroneous claim about copyright, and you can certainly rely on their statement if someone else threatened to action against you. Make sure you credit the South Australia Library as the source (but not for copyright purposes).

Re: Same image, different claims

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:03 pm
by Lumberjack
I thought that would be the case. The Australia one seems to be a scan of an original print. Here is a typical photograph from that source: The free use information is obtained via the INFO button, bottom left. This is not the photograph I wished to use, but just one selected at random. They seem to have released the lot of them, but they are all generally over 100 years old, and I am only interested in the obscure ones that only my readers would be interested in anyway. Their conditions just require acknowledgement and photograph number. They have some really good images, not just confined to Australia!

Re: Same image, different claims

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:10 pm
by AndyJ
Thanks Lumberjack.

As the original photograph is credited to "Government Photolithographer (S.A.)" that just reinforces my earlier point that the State Library of South Australia have the requisite authoroity to declare this image free of copyright. and very much brings into question the validity of the other claim by the UK museum especially if the same digital image is being referred to in both cases.