Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

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Jilgoodeker
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Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Hi

I've been searching information about the illustrations copyright from an old book and I'm pretty confused with the laws that applied in 1896.

I found a nice book published in 1896 with illustrations of Helen Stratton who died in 1961.

I thought her work was protected by copyright until 2032.

But yesterday on the digital content of the British Library I found this book http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81 ... 0&s=0&cv=0

It has Helen Stratton's illustrations in it and the British Library says "Usage Terms : Public Domain"

So I got a bit confused and made some research and I need help with what I found about works published before 1912.

"For commissioned works made prior to 1 July 1912, the 1862 Fine Arts Copyright Act governs, stating that copyright of a painting, drawing, or photograph done for or on behalf of another person "for good and valuable consideration" belongs to the commissioner." (source : https://www.dacs.org.uk/knowledge-base/ ... oned-works)

English is not my native language so I'm not sure I get it.

So I assumed prior to 1912 the book publishers held copyright on the illustrations they commissioned ?

But then I couldn't find who was the person the copyright went to : the company (and then for how long ?) or the person who commissioned it inside the company...

Or maybe I'm completely mistaken but then why illustrations from someone who died less than 70 years ago would be flagged as "public domain" by The British Library ?
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AndyJ
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jilgoodeker,

Yes, it is a bit puzzling. The fact that a work was commissioned makes no difference to the copyright term, it just changes who the copyright belongs to.

I think that what is going on here is that although the 1862 Fine Art Copyright Act applied to paintings, drawings and photographs, once these works of art were incorporated in a book, it was the book itself which became protected, and the period of protection* was based on the lifetime of the book's author, plus 7 years after his or her death. So as the author of this book, Norman Gale, died more than 70 years ago, that could well be the reason the British Library says the book is in the public domain. However, if you found some of Helen Stratton's art which was not in a book, that would still be in copyright today.

*Books at that time were protected under the 1842 Copyright Act which where that copyright term comes from.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Thank you so much I tried so hard to understand but couldn't !

You made my day !

So if another illustration from Helen Stratton was published in a book prior to 1911 it was out of copyright 7 years after the book's author's death ?

I couldn't find the 1862 Fine Art Copyright Act to read it online do you know wher I can find it ?
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Jilgoodeker wrote: Wed Feb 23, 2022 2:42 pm I couldn't find the 1862 Fine Art Copyright Act to read it online do you know wher I can find it ?
Most of the references I have are on academic websites which require you to login. However there is an open source text available to anyone here: Google books. You need to scroll down to page 333. The Act appears under the heading 25th & 26th Victoriae Cap 68.(or LXVIII in roman numerals)
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Thank you SO MUCH !

I'm working on a projetc about public domain illustrations and when it comes to foreign countries it's very difficult to understand all the nuances (I'm French).

I have another question about the illustrator I'm working on.

The book with illustrations from Helen Stratton I'm interested in is from 1896 so the 1862 Fine Art Copyright Act applied.

It's "Tales From Hans Andersen" and the publisher was Archibald Constable and co

But since Hans Christian Andersen (who was Danish) died in 1875 I'm very confused about who detained copyright on Helen Stratton's illustrations for this book.

Do you think the publisher owned copyright on those illustrations in that case ?
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jilgoodeker,

I think that the general assumption would be that the publisher would have commissioned the illustrations rather than the author, unless there was some evidence to the contrary. For example if there had several previous collaborations between the author and the illustrator as happended with AA Milne and his illustrator Edward Shepard on the Winnie the Pooh books. 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.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Ok I see, it makes sense.

But in that case how long do they hold copyright on the illustrations ?

I’m familiar with the American copyright law on this but I really don’t know how it works in the UK when a company holds the copyright.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

In the case of all EU member states the term of copyright is based on the lifetime of the person who created the work plus 70 years from the end of the year they died. This also applies in the UK. So Stratton's artwork should remain in copyright until January 2032 as you said in your original posting, even though Hans Christian Andersen's copyright ended long ago. There is no European equivalent to the American corporate copyright term of 95 years from the date of publication. It is also worth bearing in mind that in some publishing contracts there are reversion clauses meaning that even though the artist may have sold their copyright to the publisher, the right may have reverted back the artist, typically after 50 years or a specified number of years after a book goes out of print. So it may be worth trying to track down the present day heir to Helen Stratton's artistic estate. She left a will and her executors were her solicitor Edmund Theodore Maddox and a Miss Hazel Lewis. Edmund Theodore Maddox died in 1983 but as he was only her solicitor I doubt if he would have inherited any copyright. It is much more likely that Hazel Lewis was a close friend and so more likely to have inherited Stratton's estate, However given that it is over 21 years since Stratton's death I would be unsurprised to find that Hazel Lewis had also died, but there may be some sort of trust set up to administer her estate.

I think the best starting place would be with her publishers.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Thank you very much for this amazing work (how do you do that ?) I'm very glad I found this forum, you are so kind, it reminds me the early 2000's where you could find genuine help on the internet !

I didn't know it worked like that, I thought "copyright" worked the same in the countries applying it (UK, US, Australia...).

It's so very different from our "author's right" in France. A very different philosophy.

I assume the books with Helen Stratton's illustrations I found in some american public online libraries are flagged "public domain" because the copyright has expired 95 years after publishing only in the US.

https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084216/00001

Anyway, since it applies differently in EU I will try the editor's path, thanks.

(Edit : I just emailed them 🤞).
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

P.S : I found this website selling HD files and some illustrations from the same book claming there's no rights on it.

So I emailed them as well as cause they have UK offices, maybe I'll get a quicker response from them.

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-helen ... d0%26pl%3d
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again,

I'm not clear where you saw that Alamy are claiming there is no copyright in that particular image. They are saying they offer a RM (rights-managed) licence for the image and they can't do that if there is no copyright. That said, I doubt if the person identified as the contributor has any authority to release the image. If you are thinking of buying a licence from Alamy I would question them in detail about their authority to release this image under licence, given what you know about Helen Stratton's copyright in the UK (and the EU). You need an assurance in writing that you will bear no liability if the true copyright owner comes forward and makes an infringement claim.

Americans tend to forget that the fact that their law may say something is in the public domain in their country doesn't mean it is in the public domain throughout the world.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Yes that's exactly what I did, I asked them if they were absolutely sure they could sell license on this image.
I sent my email to their UK office so i'll see what their answer is ^^
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Ok you were right Alamy is a dead end they only "host" images and the person who claims to own copyright has a huge collection of public domain pics so it must be someone who thinks if an illustration is public domain in its country it is so elsewhere (impossible to verify, cause I can't contact this person).

I'll wait for the publisher's answer then.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

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Jilgoodeker wrote: Fri Feb 25, 2022 4:01 pm Ok you were right Alamy is a dead end they only "host" images ...
I know this is not really relevant as you intend to look into getting permission from the publisher or copyright owner, but just to qualify what you wrote, as quoted above. Alamy are not just a hosting service. In law they are the agents of the contributors they represent and that means that where they do things such as make images available without the permission of the copyright owner they will be jointly liable along with the contributor who has asserted that they own the copyright or that copyright has ceased. Assuming that Hi-Story, the contributor in this instance, is American then he or she no doubt thinks the work of Helen Stratton is in the public domain. However as we have seen that is not the case in the UK and EU, and so Alamy could find themselves in court if the copyright owner chose to take action against them, perhaps preferring to do that instead of trying to chase an American citizen who could not be pursued through the US courts.
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Re: Book published in 1896 - Illustrator died in 1961

Post by Jilgoodeker »

Yes this is relevant, I was really upset when they answered me that it's not their problem.

They sell licenses to people who think they purchase a real license. It's deceptive.
While it's not, it's someone who claims to have a license and didn't show them any proof of that.

If I hadn't look into this I might have purchase a license from their french website (where the illustration can be bought for magazines, books, etc...) So they sell this license worldwide.

I went mad with their last answer :

"Alamy is an online host platform where artists, image archives and news photographers upload their material to be licensed. We do not own the images on our website.

The contributors who upload the photographs are either the copyright holders or have declared that they hold the right to sell the images which they post on Alamy. They are the ones who decide which rights Alamy can sell for the images they upload to our platform.

You can view the contributor pseudonyms or names underneath each individual photo on our website. You should be able to get in touch with any particular contributor directly by searching their name/pseudonym through your search engine and contacting them via their social media or direct website in order to obtain more information about the image you're looking for."


So they don't know if the person really owns the copyright, and I can't contact this person cause the only way I can is by "searching their name/pseudonym through your search engine" as they say.

The pseudonym of that person is "Hi-story" so I feel their answer really disrespectful.

Thanks for your message I'll remind them what they are obliged to.
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