Selling photos on ebay.

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Selling photos on ebay.

Post by p6steve »

So I have a question about selling prints of my hometown either on eBay or maybe a website of my own making but am struggling to find definitive rules and regulations around it.
I have in the region of 5000 historic photos on my computer of my home city sourced from a variety of sites on the internet over about 7 years. The vast majority are just pictures I have found doing a Google search and I’ve then screen shot them and tidied them up, but there are also eBay postcards, screenshots I have taken of other peoples posts in Facebook groups and other forums, but all of which I have seen many times in many places and being sold by many different people.
I’d love to share my pictures to a wider audience and if I can make a few quid in the process then that’s a bonus, but I don’t want to infringe copyright in any way. I’d say for at least 90% of them, I have no way of knowing who took them - they’re just there on the internet!
What about postcards?
Also I have purchased many prints and photos from other people over the years, can I now sell these?
Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Re: Selling photos on ebay.

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Steve and welcome to the forums.

I think the first thing to assume is that all the images you have collected over the years are subject to copyright until you can find reliable evidence to the contrary. So for instance a photograph taken in the UK before 1945 will usually be out of copyright due to the rules which existed at that time. Also you may find that one or two of the images have been released by their authors under a Creative Commons or similar licence which allows you to commercially exploit the image concerned (note that many Creative Commons licences will have the NC attribute which means the images can't used commercially).

This situation prevails even if you have no idea who the photographer was. That merely means that the work has become orphaned. Quite often a bit of diligent searching using tools like Google Image Search can identify the photographer or a picture agency which represents him or her. Postcards are no different to other photographs, except that due to the many collectors sites it is much easier to track down the publisher of the postcard and thus the likely owner of the copyright. A particular word of warning about one particular publisher of postcards: Francis Frith and Co Ltd now trading as the Francis Frith Collection. Although many of the older photographs in this collection0, and certainly all those taken by Frith himself, are now out of copyright due to their age, but you will find the FFC have slapped copyright notices on all of their stock. Undoubtedly this claim to copyright would not hold up in court, but you might need deep pockets if you wanted, or needed, to test out this hypothesis.

If you have bought any prints from legitimate sources you can certainly sell your original print, but you cannot make copies of those prints.
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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