Silver End Tuck postcards

Tracing copyright owners and asking permission.
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Silver End Tuck postcards

Post by SEHS » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:02 am

I am secretary of Silver End Heritage Society. We are often asked for postcards of the village in the past. The village was built by Francis Henry Crittall for the workers of his factory in 1926. The Crittall Manufacturing Company ( no longer in existence) commissioned some Tuck images for post cards in the 1930s. Our society has a complete set of these postcards in its archive and we would like to reproduce them for visitors. Who holds the copyright for these postcards? Would we be able to charge for them or ask for a donation?
Thank you.

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Re: Silver End Tuck postcards

Post by AndyJ » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:54 pm


These postcards are no longer in copyright: I'll come to what that means for your society in a moment.

As the photographs were made during the 1930s the applicable law is the 1911 Copyright Act. That Act said that copyright in a photograph lasted for fifty years from the date it was made. Thus the copyright in these photographs would have ceased some time between 1980 and 1990, depending on the actual date they were taken in the 1930s. Although there were subsequent Copyright Acts in 1956 and 1988, neither of these statutes changed the situation regarding photographs which had been made before the later Acts came into force*.

This is fortunate because if this hadn't been the case, it might have been a complicated trail to follow in order to find the present-day owners of the copyright. This is because the same 1911 Copyright Act says that, under normal circumstances, the owner of copyright in a photograph which has been commissioned is the person who commissions it. This would mean that you would need to follow the trail to the successors to the original Crittall Manufacturing Company, that is to say Crittall Windows Ltd. However there's a fair chance that no-one at the present day company would have a clue about copyright in some old postcards.

Alternatively, it is possible that Francis Henry Crittall (or someone in his company) did not actually commission the photographs, and instead Tucks merely sought permission to take the pictures and sell the postcards, possibly with a percentage of the profits going to Crittalls. If this was the case then Tucks would have owned the copyright outright. The company Raphael Tuck & Sons was absorbed into the Maxwell Communication Corporation in the 1980s, and Maxwell Communications was itself later broken up, with several separate companies buying up the different parts of the Corporation. I have no idea which might have acquired the intellectual property rights associated with Raphael Tuck & Sons.

So on the basis that these images are now in the public domain, you may freely reproduce the postcards and sell them in what ever form you wish. However you should be aware that as the copyright has run out, other people can do the same thing assuming that they too have access to the original postcards.

* Subsequent EU legislation did have the effect of extending the duration of copyright, but only for images and other works which were still protected by copyright on 31 December 1995.
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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