Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Jilgoodeker
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

AndyJ wrote: Wed Feb 23, 2022 9:48 pm Based on the general assumption, the publisher or their heirs or successors in title would be the present day copyright holders. Fortunately in this case you have a direct successor to the original publishers in the form of Little, Brown who retain the Constable imprint.
Ok I finally got an answer from someone at Little Brown.

"I hope this finds you well. Your email has been passed to me in the rights team at Little, Brown. We do now look after Constable titles but I am afraid I can find no record of this title anywhere on our system, likely due to the age of the book.

I’m really sorry I cannot be of more help with this."

So that's a dead end and I really don't know where I could ask.

I tried this https://www.dacs.org.uk/licensing-works/enquiry
But Helen Stratton doesn't seem to be in their system.

Is there any institutions in the UK where they might have something about Helen Stratton's heirs ?
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AndyJ
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jilgoodeker,

Nice to hear from you again. Unfortunately I can't suggest any other specific source of information on Helen Stratton's estate. The fact that the publishers don't have any record suggests that no-one has been paid any royalties for a very long time. Pehaps your best bet would be to get an orphan works licence from the UK's Intellectual Property Office. The down side of this is that it will only protect you from liability in the UK, but since that is the most likely place where any heir may still be found, that protection is the most useful to you. More details on how to apply, here.

A slightly more complicated route might be to try and trace what happened to Miss Hazel Lewis whom I mentioned in an earlier posting. She was probably Helen Stratton's heir and if you can find out when she (Hazel) died, she may have left a will which might identify who inherited her estate. You can get copies of UK wills from the Government's Probate Service website. They cost £1.50, so you could start by getting Helen Stratton's will. Details of how to do this here.
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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Jilgoodeker
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

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Oh thanks that's very helpful thank you so much !

Is this orphan copyright an obligation or just some sort of protection ?
Cause I will sell this in France so maybe it won't protect me at all.

I tried to locate Miss Hazel Lewis but I don't know when she died so the form to find her will won't find her :/

I feel I'm in a sort of a dead end am I not ?
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AndyJ
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again Jilgoodeker,

The British orphan works licensing scheme (as distinct from the EU scheme) only provides a licensor with immunity from copyright claims within the UK; the EU member states do not recognise it, and so, yes, in France you might be liable for a claim. However if there is an heir to Helen Stratton's artistic estate it seems probable that he or she will be British and therefore, assuming they care, they would want to pursue a claim in Britain and not have the expense and complexity of bringing a claim in the French courts. This is all against the background that it seems highly likely that if there is an heir to the Stratton estate, they either don't know about it or they don't have any interest in it. If they did have an interest in benefitting from the estate they would have registered with DACS in order to receive any royalties which might still be payable after all this time.

And I agree that searching for what happened to Hazel Lewis is probably not going to be profitable. In September1939 Helen Stratton was living in her cottage in Bath with a woman named Clara Sraman who was 16 years younger than Stratton and was described as a companion. On that basis it seems possible that Hazel Lewis was also a companion. If she did inherit Stratton's estate then she would have been a very wealthy woman. The estate was valued at £54,206 in 1961 which would be equivalent to about £1,283,730 today.

I have just remembered another organisation which collects royalties on behalf of artists: the Artists Collecting Society. Helen Stratton doesn't appear among their list of members but it is just possible they may have some information about her estate.
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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Jilgoodeker
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Ok thank you ! You know so much about all this it's very helpful.

So maybe I should proceed without any authorization...

I will try that last lead on the Artist's Estate and then I will consider that no one cares about Helen Stratton's illustrations copyright.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

AndyJ wrote: Mon Mar 28, 2022 7:15 pm I have just remembered another organisation which collects royalties on behalf of artists: the Artists Collecting Society. Helen Stratton doesn't appear among their list of members but it is just possible they may have some information about her estate.
Ok they just answered me they do not have any information about Helen Stratton's estate.

So I think I will proceed without any license, it seems there's a very tiny risk there, so I will do it.

Thank you very much for all your help !
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