Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

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pilax23
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Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by pilax23 » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:44 pm

Hello, I have a query about copyright on photos taken between 1945 and 31 May 1957. What is the length of copyright for these images?

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AndyJ
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Re: Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by AndyJ » Sat Feb 01, 2020 4:08 pm

Hi pilax,

Most photographs taken in the UK before 1 June 1957 would have been subject to the 1911 Copyright Act, and specifically section 21 of that Act which said:
21 Provisions as to photographs

The term for which copyright shall subsist in photographs shall be fifty years from the making of the original negative from which the photograph was directly or indirectly derived, and the person who was owner of such negative at the time when such negative was made shall be deemed to be the author of the work, and, where such owner is a body corporate, the body corporate shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to reside within the parts of His Majesty's dominions to which this Act extends if it has established a place of business within such parts.
The 1956 Copyright Act which came into force on 1 June 1957 did not alter the situation for photographs already in existence. You can find the detail for this in Paragraph 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Copyright Act 1956.

So to answer your question, unless the photographs were covered by Crown copyright*, the duration of copyright protection would have been 50 years from the date the photograph was made (ie when the film was exposed in a camera) assuming this occurred in the UK or a number of UK overseas territories. For photographs taken outside the UK etc during this period, even if the photographer was British or a British resident, the situation is more complicated as it is likely that the law of the country where the photograph was taken might determine the duration.

In view of pilax's follow on comment (see below) I'm amending this posting to reflect the effect of subsequent EU legisation. Any photograph which was still in copyright on 1 July 1995 (that is to say, any photograph created on or after 1 January 1945) became subject to a new copyright duration based on the lifetime of the author of the work, plus seventy years from the end of the year in which he or she died, which is the situation today for all literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. If the identity of the author is unknown, section 12 (3) and (4) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 applies:
(3) If the work is of unknown authorship, copyright expires—

(a) at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made, or

(b) if during that period the work is made available to the public, at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first so made available,

subject as follows.

(4) Subsection (2) [ie 70 years following the year of death] applies if the identity of the author becomes known before the end of the period specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (3).



*Crown Copyright in photographs lasted for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was first published, rather than when it was made.
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

pilax23
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Re: Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by pilax23 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:56 am

Many thanks for your answer. I'm a bit confused and the reason is a reply you gave to my earlier query which was this:

"However, in 1995 the UK was obliged to introduce changes to conform with European law. This increased the post mortem element to 70 years and it also had retrospective effect on any photograph* which was still in copyright on 1 July 1995."

I assumed that this would apply to the period I mentioned - 1945 - 1957.

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Re: Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by AndyJ » Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:23 pm

Hi pilax,

You are absolutely right to be confused! While my previous answer was correct as far as it went, it did not go far enough. I completely neglected to add the part you quoted about the effect of the EU Term Directive. As you have identified, this radically altered the position for any photographs made after 31 December 1944. Apologies for my earlier misleading answer.
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

pilax23
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Re: Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by pilax23 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 12:17 pm

Many thanks. That's now completely clear. As others have remarked, what an excellent site this.

Nick Cooper
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Re: Photo copyright 1945 - 1957

Post by Nick Cooper » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:27 pm

The "problem" for the supposed EU-based extension is that the Paragraph 12 of Schedule as revised still states:

(2) Copyright in the following descriptions of work continues to subsist until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act—
...
(c) published photographs and photographs taken before 1st June 1957;

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/198 ... ting-works

It could be argued that the 1995 SI did indeed change post mortem terms from 50 to 70 years, but under the 1911 and 1956 Acts photographs were not actually covered by post mortem terms, hence Schedule 12 paragraph 12 remains unamended. The fact that other non-post mortem terms (e.g. Crown Copyright) were not increased backs this up.

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