Claiming Copyright

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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Sassanach
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Claiming Copyright

Post by Sassanach » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:15 pm

Hi

Can some one claim copyright when selling prints taken from old postcards , the cards in question are over 100 years old?

The prints are being sold with a claim of copyright from the printer + the owner of a "postcard collection", I have limited knowledge on copyright but I believe simply owning a 100+ year old postcard does not give you any rights over the image and clearly there is likely to be more than one holder of any one particular postcard anyway

Many thanks for any info

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AndyJ
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Re: Claiming Copyright

Post by AndyJ » Sat Nov 30, 2019 10:02 pm

Hi sassanach,

The facetious answer is that yes anyone can claim copyright in just about anything. However they may not have a valid claim.
In the case you have cited, it would seem highly unlikely that any new copyright has been created by whoever has digitised these postcards. The law says that a copyright work is only created where an author emboidies his or her own creative spirit in a work, by making creative choices which reflect their artistic personality. Just sticking something in a scanner doesn't come close. You can read what the UK's Intellectual Property Office has to say on the subject on page 3 of this Copyright Notice.

However since even some of the most prestigious museums and art galleries do this with images they wish to monetise, despite the weight of legal opinion which says this practice is unjustifiable, you can see why your postcrard collector thinks this is OK.

Sadly we have very little caselaw to help show where the boundary lies between unjustfiied claims and 'new' works which might meet the creative threshold; when challenged to take the matter to court, most of these institutions back down as they are keen to avoid any legal judgment which is likely to find their practices unethical.
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

Sassanach
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Re: Claiming Copyright

Post by Sassanach » Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:02 pm

Hi Andy

Thanks for reply, it appears it's a very grey area

My question arose because of a specific postcard of which prints are being sold with a copyright claim included

It so happens that my mother in law owns a copy of the same postcard and the subject of the postcard is actually a family relative of hers

I suppose a test would be if I took some prints from the Mother in laws postcard and offered them for sale and see if a legal challange is raised... :D

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AndyJ
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Re: Claiming Copyright

Post by AndyJ » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:17 pm

Sassanach wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 7:02 pm
I suppose a test would be if I took some prints from the Mother in laws postcard and offered them for sale and see if a legal challange is raised... :D
That would be a great idea. You could shut down a claim like that in a matter of minutes because if you perfomed your own scan of an out-of-copyright original postcard, then that clearly can't infringe someone else's scan of their original card. The digital files would be be different and so a very brief examination of them would show that yours was not a copy of their digital file, plus of course you could produce the original postcard as proof of independent creation.
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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