Using the rear of used postcards to make new postcards to se

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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jennyGibraltar
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Using the rear of used postcards to make new postcards to se

Post by jennyGibraltar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:55 pm

Hi, I have purchased some used postcards and I wish to copy the rears of these to create new postcards. The content of the rear of these in general have the following. The original printed area from the postcard manufacturer. A hand written message from the sender. The recipient's address, a post mark and either a Gibraltar Postage Stamp or a Spanish Postage stamp.

I understand that reproducing the receiver's address would be undesirable, therefore I am intending to blank that out. I am also concerned about copying the postage stamp, I was wondering if I copied these in black and white would help? Or whether to blank out as much as the stamp as possible. I am also concerned, as although the rears are very standard with regard to the manufacturer, there may be some reference to the printer etc, do I need to remove this as well.

The messages are either hilarious, touching or simply sweet. However, simply reproducing those doesn't give me the complete picture as the stamps/denomination and date stamp set the scene.

postcards date from around 1920-2010.
Thank you for your assistance

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:51 pm

Hi Jenny,

As you have mentioned there are several aspects to this. And the one which you haven't really touched from a copyright perspective - the actual message - is the one which would concern me the most.

But first, of the other parts, there will be no copyright in the recipient's address, but as you indicate, there may well be privacy issues so definitely best not to include them. The Gibraltar postage stamps are most certainly covered by copyright and reproducing them in the way you mention could lead to problems; reproducing them in black and white would not really change things. The only exception which might apply is the one for incidental inclusion, but if you plan on removing the address, then I think it would be hard to argue that the stamp was only there incidentally when you had clearly edited other aspects of the original. I am not sure what protection is applied to Spanish stamps, but I would be surprised if they were not also protected by copyright. I don't think the name of the publisher/printer will be subject to copyright so it probably doesn't matter about removing that.

But as I have said, the messages on these postcards will almost certainly qualify as literary works and thus have copyright protection. In the case of the older cards, it is possible that the authors died more than 70 years ago and so their messages may no longer be in copyright today. But since these are, I assume, all unpublished works, under UK law they may well be in copyright until the end of 2039 even though the authors died many years ago. Again I'm not sure exactly how Spanish copyright law from earlier times would apply to unpublished works, so I would advise treating them the same as those which originated in Gibraltar/UK. Obviously the more modern cards - whether Spanish or Gibraltarian in origin - will fall under EU copyright provisions. Since you have little chance of tracing authors of these messages for their permission, you run a real risk that you could be sued for infringement should one of the authors see their message reproduced in the way you propose. Or equally they may not care or even recognise their words, if many years have elapsed. Nonetheless a risk remains, especially as you seem to be proposing to use the messages for a commercial purpose. Unfortunately neither Gibraltar nor Spain have a similar system to the UK's orphan works licensing scheme, by which you can avoid liability for infringement by obtaining a licence.

One final aspect which is worth mentioning is that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerns respect for a person's private and family life, and that includes his/her correspondence. While I am sure that you would not wish to publish anything which was obviously private in nature, the fact that you are seeking to publish any private correspondence could be seen as contrary to Article 8.
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

jennyGibraltar
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Post by jennyGibraltar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:43 pm

Thank you so much for the information. I had searched the internet but couldn't see any specific information. Although the messages are all delightful and all refer to Gibraltar in general, I do understand the context and content of your response. I think I shall err on the side of caution, and refrain from pursuing this matter any further. I am so glad I found this forum, I have a feeling I shall require it's services again! Thank you once more and Merry Christmas.

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