Images of magazine covers used for profit

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Images of magazine covers used for profit

Post by Haz777 »


I have read a few articles/responses to law surrounding use of magazine images used for profit but I cant determine if my specific case is classed as copyright infringement.

I would like to take my own photographs of a well known magazine and print the photographs onto clothing for profitable sale. Is this illegal? As its a cover there is writing, if i change 20% of the whole cover am i covered or is the image copyright separate to the text? Lastly, if i credit the photographer on any item I sell is that just a moral courtesy or is there any actual benefit in terms of legality?

I saw somewhere that if 25 years has passed the copyright on a magazine cover will have expired. Is this still the case?

I thank you for taking the time to read my case and eagerly await your esteemed response. Thanks
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Re: Images of magazine covers used for profit

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Maz77,

You will have get permission from the photographer to do what you want to do.

The photograph is a separate work and irrespective of whether it was commissioned specifically for the cover or not, copyright in it will stand on its own, unconnected to the text which is overlaid on it. Copyright can be infringed if a substantial part of the original work is copied without permission. 'Substantial' is usually measured in terms of the quality of what is taken, not the quantity, therefore the idea of only using a percentage doesn't remove liability if the part that you use represents the heart or essence of the original. Just crediting the photgrapher without getting permission is not going to help I'm afraid, since none of the exceptions to copyright (which might require a credit) would apply in your case.

The matter is 25 years protection you read about is probably a reference to a special form of copyright know as copyright in a published edition. This protection only applies to the typographical layout of the published edition of a book or magazine etc, and it usually belongs to the publisher. Copyright in the underlying images and text which make up the cover or content of the book or magazine etc will still be subject to the normal copyright which lasts for 70 years after the death of the author.
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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