Another question regarding old postcards info needed thanks

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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postcardcollector
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Another question regarding old postcards info needed thanks

Post by postcardcollector » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:05 am

Hi, i have read much on this forum regarding old postcards but need a little info.

I have several old postcards late victorian by rotary

Are these rotary cards ok to use in publications does rotary still own the copyright, i cant find info to see if the company is still active.

Any advice welcome, thanks guys

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:34 am

Hi pcc,

I think it would be correct to assume that the Rotary Photographic Co Ltd owned the copyright in the images it used on its postcards. The law at the time provided that someone who commissioned the taking of a photograph would be the owner of copyright, and of course if the photographs were taken by employees of the company, copyright also automatically devolved to the employer.

As for whether copyright still exists, it seems most unlikely since the company went into voluntary liquidation in April 1916, meaning that all its stock of photographs must have been made before that date. Under section 21 of Copyright Act 1911, copyright in photographs only existed for 50 years from the date they were made, irrrespective of whether they were ever published. However, by definition if you have copies of the postcards, they must have been published.

Although the assets, presumably including the copyright in their stock of photographs, of the Rotary Photography Co Ltd were bought up and later became part of another company this would have made no difference to the fact that copyright in the original company's images would have lapsed by 1967, if not much earlier. On that basis you don't need to find out if the company (in its successor form) is still trading. However, if you do wish to try and trace the current owners of any rights which may still exist, based on the information contained in the two websites I linked to above, you might try contacting Arjowiggins (the successors to Wiggins Teape) and/or Harman Technology Ltd (the successor to Ilford Photo). However I would be surprised if anyone at either company had the faintest idea what you were talking about!
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

postcardcollector
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Thanks Andy

Post by postcardcollector » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:02 am

WOW many many thanks Andy

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Post by surfgatinho » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:24 pm

Something I have often wondered about old postcards (or photographs) is how the copyright is effected when they are republished, possibly as derivatives.

For example, if a collector of old photographs were to publish a book. Would it be legal for someone to scan these photos and repurpose them for their own commercial gain?

And what if the collector / publisher modified them in some way, for example by removing marks and possibly adding a watermark. Would these derivatives count as new works?

Not planning on taking down the Francis Frith empire - just interested!

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Post by AndyJ » Sat Sep 24, 2016 5:52 am

Hi Chris,

Assuming that the postcards were out of copyright when they were re-published, it would require a fairly significant and creative alteration to them for a new copyright to come into existence. I doubt if adding a watermark would be sufficient. And if no new copyright had been created, someone who scanned and re-used just the images would not infringe. Indeed I would go so far as to say that if the publisher had put a watermark on an image, scanning it and removing the watermark would not infringe either because the result would be substantially the same as the original out-of-copyright image. Of course any accompanying text would attract copyright, unless it was de minimis.
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

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