Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Caffolive
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Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by Caffolive »

Hello,
I have many vintage magazines dated from 1940-1970's. Aside from selling the actual magazines online, I am wondering if it's possible to upload individual images (covers, adverts, type, illustrations etc) from the magazines onto an online stock library, such as Alamy, in order to make money from use of these images? Here are some examples:

EVERYWOMAN magazine, April 1950,
Good Housekeeping Magazine [United States] (November 1939),
Picture Post Magazine 23 February 1952 Hultons National Weekly
ERWIN BLUMENFELD Norman Parkinson Vogue Beauty Book 1951 No.5 magazine
BRITISH VOGUE - MAY 1951 (VINTAGE ISSUE)

I have found similar images online available for use for editorial, personal and commercial use via 'Alamy' and wondered if it was legit? I have also read some previous posts on this forum, in order to understand if my idea is doable, but have come away feeling confused. So I am hoping there may be a clear answer.

Many thanks
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AndyJ
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Caffolive,

Sadly there's no single answer to this. This is because different parts of an old magazine will be covered by different forms of copyright, and in some cases the copyright will belong fairly and squarely to the magazine publisher, and in other cases (eg the adverts) the copyright will belong to the firm whose product is being advertised.

All magazines from the period 1940 to 1979 would have been subject to the former period of copyright which was the lifetime of the author (or artist or phtographer) plus 50 years from the end of the year in which they died. This means that since in virtually all cases that copyright would still have been running in July 1995 when the post mortem period was extended to 70 years, their copyright has also been extended. Thus even something created in the 1940s is likely to still be in copyright today. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that different items in the same magazine will have different copyright durations, as the contributors will all have lived for different lengths of time, and indeed many contributors from the later period will still be alive. On that basis, the best and safest thing is to assume that all of the content is still subject to copyright today.

This means that you either need to seek permission from the copyright owner (the publisher or their successors), or take a chance that the publisher of a 70 year old magazine isn't going to care if you make a photographic copy of one of their old magazine covers. If you adopt the latter course of action, you will probaly need to take into account if the original publisher still exists and if the magazine title is still being produced today. For example Vogue magazine's publishers Condé Nast are highly likely to object. It might seem therefore that since the Picture Post folded in the late 1950s, you would be less likely to face objections if you reproduced pages from that title, that is, until you realise that the entire Hulton Picture library (Hulton's were the publishers of Picture Post) is now owned by Getty Images. It is hard to imagine a more litigious organisation than Getty.

I can't answer for the images you found on Alamy, but I would be surprised if they had not been created with permission from the copyright owners.
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Caffolive
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by Caffolive »

Hello AndyJ,
Thank you very much for taking the time to address my question. It seems like a complicated and risky route. I shall err oh the side of caution, me thinks, and not do anything that could land me in hot water!

I have another question which I hope you don't mind me asking:
If I were to frame single pages or sections of the magazine and sell them online, would that be ok, or is this another complicated venture?

Caffolive
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AndyJ
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again,

Provided that you only use original pages from the magazines and don't copy them in any way, that should be fine. More details about the topic in this thread.
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Caffolive
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by Caffolive »

HI AndyJ,

Thank you for that. I have read the thread you suggested, which was very informative. However I am concerned that the vintage magazines I have, I have had for over 20 years and have obtained them from various sources - charity shops, some were found on the street and some given to me. And have absolutely no proof of purchase.

Will this prejudice my case should someone try and accuse me of infringement of copyright etc?

Thank you,
Caffolive
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AndyJ
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again,

No, you don't need to worry about proof of purchase. It should be obvious from the material in the frames that it is original*; how you came by the magazines is immaterial and it can be safely assumed that you are the legal owner of the magazines as they are in your possession (or at least, they were until you dismembered them to put into frames!)

* The paper will be the biggest clue to original nature of the pages as it will probably be of a quality only available to magazine publishers. Also the ink used in litho printing (the method normally used for large scale printing operations) is quite different to the inks used in home inkjet printers, or the toner used in photocopiers.
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Caffolive
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Re: Vintage magazines - uploading images to online library?

Post by Caffolive »

Thank you very much for reassuring me!
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