copyright on 19th Century illustrated book?

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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beadyozgirl
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copyright on 19th Century illustrated book?

Post by beadyozgirl » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:46 am

Hello!

I'm sorry if this has already been answered in another post, but on searching I couldn't really find it!

I'm a mixed media jewellery designer who loves to use parts of text or old illustrations in my work.

I have a facsimile copy (that was printed in 2005) of a late 19th Century book called the Illustrated Shakespeare, with illustrations by amongst others an Artist called John Gilbert.

Now, I know that Shakespeare's plays must be in the public domain by now (I think!), but I am interested in using some of the illustrations by John Gilbert.

According to copyright law in the UK, I believe it is the life of the artist plus 70 years. He died in 1897, so I think his illustrations are out of copyright.

The book I have was re-printed from the original, but there isn't any extra copyright associated with this copy. Does that mean I can use the illustrations for my jewellery or not?

Should I contact the people who re-printed the book to ask?

I have always been very careful in determining copyright and ensuring I use copyright free material in my work, and I would just like to know if there is any other law associated with this or not?

Cheers, Amanda/Beadyozgirl

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:30 pm

Hi Amanda,
You are right about Shakespeare (in fact his works as such were never in copyright because he died 94 years before the first English Copyright Act) and as you have researched John Gilbert correctly and found that he died in 1897, then it is pretty certain that both the text and illustrations were out of copyright a long time ago. In fact the law which was in force at the time of Gilbert's death was the 1842 Copyright Amendment Act* which provided for a copyright term of 7 years following the death of the author, or 42 years from the date of first publication of the work, which ever is the later, so it is possible the original book was out of copyright fairly early in the twentieth century.
If the edition you have is a facsimile copy, ie its typography and layout is identical to the nineteenth century version, then it will not be entitled to any special protection. It was not until the Copyright Act 1956 that a separate copyright was created for a published edition, to last for 25 years from the date of first publication, but even if the edition you have was published after 1 July 1957 (when the 1956 Act came into force), it would not qualify for the new protection if it "reproduces the typographical arrangement of a previous edition of the same work or works" (section 15, Copyright Act 1956), which from your description it sounds as if it does. Therefore I think you are perfectly safe to assume that the illustrations are in the public domain and you are free to use them in your jewellery.

* As a matter of interest, had these particular works by Gilbert been free-standing paintings or etchings etc, rather than incorporated into the book of Shakespeare's works, they would have been protected by the 1862 Fine Art Copyright Act, which only provided for a copyright term of the natural life of the artist plus seven years. This situation prevailed until the 1911 Copyright Act which codified the earlier individual Acts.
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

beadyozgirl
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Post by beadyozgirl » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:01 pm

Hi AndyJ

Thanks for your input and information regarding this copyright issue question!

Yes, you are correct in surmising that this is a direct facsimile of the original book typography and all.

I didn't know about the earlier copyright amendment act that was in force at the time of Gilbert's death, that is very interesting!

Thanks again for clarification and help!

If anyone would like to see my work, including my future Shakespeare jewellery (I'll be getting onto the soon!), you can find me on Pinterest using the Beadyozgirl name or my Facebook page: just search for Bowerbird Jewellery!

Amanda/beadyozgirl

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