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Copyright is obviously a bit of a minefield but I have a question !

I bought a print, initially to copy and put on the wall of my old farmhouse in Hungary, which I will still do, but the quality is so good and so detailed that it would be fine for Alamy via the archival route. It is an original print that has a postcard type layout printed on the back. It was taken by a Hungarian photographer in the 1930s who has been deceased for more than 70 years. A small signature is on the print and obviously I would attribute his name in the title and tags. There are also other images by this photographer being used online buy not the image I have.

Whilst he has been deceased for more than 70 years, I am also aware that copyright can be passed on to a heir or heirs so I have been trying to find out if it applies in this instance.

Somebody in a Facebook group I am with asked a similar question and I answered as above regarding the 70 year rule ... but was then answered by someone who said that I was almost correct but not fully ... she said "The material rights part can be passed on, not the personal rights". She then went on to say that she is a lawyer who deals with copyright litigation.

Now, I am not going to take the word of a stranger on Facebook and get bitten somewhere down the line so, the question is, has anybody else heard of a difference between material and personal rights because I have never heard of them and Google is no help either !!

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I am not a lawyer, but as far as I can make out:

1. Hungary has the same rules as the rest of the EU, death of the author plus 70 years, as you said.

2. Copyright can be passed on to heirs, but only until that time is up.

     2b (with the sole exception of Peter Pan, and even that's more goodwill in the UK than anything else, and who in their right mind would go to court about it?)

3. "Personal Rights" seem to be irrelevant in this case, and seem (in the EU) to relate to things like a factory polluting the air you breathe.


I wonder if she meant that a material work of art can be passed on even after the 70 years, but the right of copyright in that art doesn't go with it.

So I might have inherited an original artwork in which copyright had expired, but e.g. if prints were available, other people would now be able to make and sell photos of the prints, I have no more rights than they have to do that.


From my recentish experience, even lawyers who claim to be IP specialists don't necessarily have a clue.


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Yes, it's complicated ! From what she was saying / implying, the print I have bought is now out of copyright as the photographer has been deceased for more than 70 years so it is now free to use .... I just needed to clarify that is the case and it seems that is so ! What I have read so far also agrees with what you have written as well Cryptoprocta so I think it will be safe to use !

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