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Copying 1960s slides for archive/reportage.

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I’ve bought some boxes of amateur 1960s transparencies which i’m copying with a mind to selling here via archive/ reportage. They’re all of London - trooping the colour, state opening of parliament etc. My question is about copyright - are these images now mine to sell?

 

 

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Not unless you have a written release of copyright from the photographer whether amateur or professional. Dated and if possible, witnessed. Possession of the slides or negatives does not mean you own copyright. They are entirely separate although the amateur photographer might not know that. But he /she might learn and cause problems. You can chance your arm, but there is always the risk things might bite back. I hope you didn't pay a lot because there is an awful lot of that stuff about. Professional coverage at that! There is always the chance that if Alamy have a potential buyer, they may contact you to ask if you have copyright; happened to me not too long ago. It was a 1960s shot.

Edited by Robert M Estall
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58 minutes ago, ACC said:

I’ve bought some boxes of amateur 1960s transparencies which i’m copying with a mind to selling here via archive/ reportage. They’re all of London - trooping the colour, state opening of parliament etc. My question is about copyright - are these images now mine to sell?

 

 

 

No you don't own copyright. If you don't know who owns the copyright they are Orphan Works. 

 

I started a thread about this and it contains some of the information I obtained from email exchanges with the govt office that deals with this in UK.

 

I can't find a way to post the link. It's called 'Orphan Work Puzzlement'  in Let's talk about pics

 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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I found the thread, thanks Ian.

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45 minutes ago, ACC said:

 

 

The irony is that if these old photos are going to be saved they need to have an economic value. And this Orphan Works situation prevents that.

 

Have a look on Ebay and you'll see huge unassorted piles of old slides being sold off for very low prices. I assume some people like them for art projects, not sure what other uses they have beyond pure serrendipity.

 

I've come across one or two cultural projects that invite people to donate their old photos for the sake of posterity but the one I have particularly in mind is a charity and does ask for permission from those donating - won't take the images without written permission.

 

Going back to my discussions with the copyright authority. It went one stage further than I reported on that other thread. I asked what I would have to pay as licence fee to have the images on a non-commercial basis simply to let others see them and was told it would be 10p per image in addition to the initial charges. So, the Orphan Works Register would charge me £80 for each 30 images to check that I had done a diligent search and all the admin, and then another £3 for putting those 30 images on my website for other people to look at.

 

There is always the other option of not doing it properly! Putting them on a website with a disclaimer about copyright should the owner emerge ( will they really object?), and if you wanted to have a  'commercial' angle charge a service fee per image to any potential commercial publisher who would then have to deal with the Copyright Office themselves and pay their licence fee on top of the search and admin fees. Not sure what the potential for being 'bitten' would be? Maybe you could do this as a charity of cultural organisation?

 

Can't imagine that Alamy would want to accept images like this which are obviously in copyright but copyright owner unknown.

 

I am interested in pursuing this and will keep plugging away. 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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A good few years back I had a distant Aunt who said she had a collection of slides from the time she was involved in education in Rhodesia. She knew I was developing an archive of photographs and would leave them to me in her will. I said "very kind but I wouldn't be able to do much with them unless we could sit down and caption them" She gave me one of those looks. I never saw the slides but I did know she had the most appalling handwriting. Eventually she passed away and sure enough she did leave them to me in her will. I dutifully did go along to the funeral. The more immediate family I think were not greatly pleased by this so I said they could take the collection home and go through them and pick out anything they thought interesting as family mementoes. 

I guess I would have been safe enough as far as copyright goes even though I didn't have a specific release, but I just thought I would let it go. Basically, if I can't caption a photo well, it's not worth doing. And would would be pointless putting it up on Alamy.

Edited by Robert M Estall

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25 minutes ago, Robert M Estall said:

Not unless you have a written release of copyright from the photographer whether amateur or professional. Dated and if possible, witnessed. You can chance your arm, but there is always the risk things might bite back. I hope you didn't pay a lot because there is an awful lot of that stuff about. Professional coverage at that!

 

 

No I didn't pay much at all for the slides I have. As I said they do not have a market value. Approx £10-£20 for somebody's entire photo collection of thousands of slides -  including medium format. I even ended up with one shot of the Beatles!

 

I just find it sad that they are getting flogged off at auctions and even worse chucked in the rubbish bin. Also sad is seeing military medals all lined up at auction no longer wanted by the family.

 

The other day someone visiting a refuse dump found a photo album taken by an officer at Gallipoli with unique images of the battlefield. 

 

Admittedly, this did have a commercial value just as an album and went to auction with an expected price of £1500.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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My local charity shop had two Boots storage boxes for slides each marked "Isle of Man TT 1966". They were empty, the ones that got away.

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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

I just find it sad that they are getting flogged off at auctions and even worse chucked in the rubbish bin.

 

I suppose there are a lots of possibilities as to why such photo collections are discarded, here's just a couple

 

The owner doesn't value them (and so potentially wouldn't be concerned if they turned up on line)

The owner does value the images and has already digitised them but needs the space and so has discarded the original prints and slides. (They might then be very concerned if copies turned up on line). 

 

I'll probably be chucking a lot of my digitised slides before too long for exactly that reason. Maybe I should destroy rather than chuck them.:unsure:

 

Mark

 

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1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

I suppose there are a lots of possibilities as to why such photo collections are discarded, here's just a couple

 

The owner doesn't value them (and so potentially wouldn't be concerned if they turned up on line)

The owner does value the images and has already digitised them but needs the space and so has discarded the original prints and slides. (They might then be very concerned if copies turned up on line). 

 

I'll probably be chucking a lot of my digitised slides before too long for exactly that reason. Maybe I should destroy rather than chuck them.:unsure:

 

Mark

 

 

 

Most of this stuff ends up in auction after a person has died and their house has been cleared. Some goes direct to the auction, other things filter through dealers. 

 

If I get around to digitising these old slides I could always put them back in the auction.

 

I have spoken to the auctioneers to suggest that if they sold them with copyright permission they would potentially get higher prices but they just weren't interested. Just too much hassle I suppose. Neither will they tell you who put the items in for auction. 

 

With the latest batch I bought there was a name and address on various items. I Googled the name and found that he had died a year ago, and there was an obituary online which mentioned his partner's name and the funeral company. 

 

So I could try and make contact but am not sure how that would go or how it would come across.

 

Mark, you raise a very legitimate point though I can't ever imagine chucking my slides out even when all copied.

Edited by geogphotos

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Thinking more about it. It is something of a nonsense to have a transfer of ownership without a transfer of copyright.

 

It means that neither the photographer/copyright owner or the buyer can do anything with the images. 

Edited by geogphotos
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5 hours ago, geogphotos said:

Thinking more about it. It is something of a nonsense to have a transfer of ownership without a transfer of copyright.

 

It means that neither the photographer/copyright owner or the buyer can do anything with the images. 

 

Not entirely true. You cannot publish them, but you can do almost everything else. Like buying and selling; hang them on your wall; show them to your friends; show them in your classroom to your students; throw them away; print and send them as Christmas cards; wait until the copyright runs out and publish them then. It's entirely like a piece of art. Or like when someone buys a print of one of your images.

 

wim

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Ian’s earlier post on Orphan Works Puzzlement

6 hours ago, wiskerke said:

 

Not entirely true. You cannot publish them, but you can do almost everything else. Like buying and selling; hang them on your wall; show them to your friends; show them in your classroom to your students; throw them away; print and send them as Christmas cards; wait until the copyright runs out and publish them then. It's entirely like a piece of art. Or like when someone buys a print of one of your images.

 

wim

 

..But Alamy puts them up for sale. Plenty of “photographer unknown”, and ‘`copyright not claimed” images like this one - J0R23N. Is that because “orphan works” is only a thing in UK law so if the purchaser is elsewhere the original copyright owner has no remedy?

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7 hours ago, wiskerke said:

 

Not entirely true. You cannot publish them, but you can do almost everything else. Like buying and selling; hang them on your wall; show them to your friends; show them in your classroom to your students; throw them away; print and send them as Christmas cards; wait until the copyright runs out and publish them then. It's entirely like a piece of art. Or like when someone buys a print of one of your images.

 

wim

 

 

Yes all true but I have some artist friends and they have a completely different attitude to their work. Once they sell a painting that's it - gone. They lose all track of it completely and I don't think they care less what the the new owner does with it. I have never heard of a painting being sold with or without any documentation about copyright. It seems to be assumed that the new owner owns everything to do with the painting and that the artist has relinquished all rights. Of course there is a huge difference between a painting and a photographic slide. 

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1 hour ago, ACC said:

Ian’s earlier post on Orphan Works Puzzlement

 

..But Alamy puts them up for sale. Plenty of “photographer unknown”, and ‘`copyright not claimed” images like this one - J0R23N. Is that because “orphan works” is only a thing in UK law so if the purchaser is elsewhere the original copyright owner has no remedy?

 

 

Yes, but it isn't actually Alamy that has put them up for sale. It is the contributor who has done that and who takes full responsibility. Alamy is simply the intermediary taking commission on selling licences.

 

Our contract makes clear that you have to have the right to upload images to Alamy - you own the copyright, or there is no copyright. Sure some people go against the rules but that is down to them not Alamy. As Robert says above you can take the risk and ignore the rules but it might come back to bite you. What the chances are, and what the possible consequences would be, I don't know.

Edited by geogphotos
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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

Once they sell a painting that's it - gone.

 

That maybe true of some artists, but the ones I deal with will sell the original artwork, but they also have a digital copy and prints and will continue to sell prints and cards etc. The artists I deal with know that the copyright is still theirs even though the original has been sold and they may loose track of it.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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25 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

 

That maybe true of some artists, but the ones I deal with will sell original artwork, but they also have a digital copy and prints and will continue to sell prints and cards etc. The artists I deal with know that the copyright is still theirs even though the original has been sold and they may loose track of it.

 

Mark

 

 

Thanks for the clarification Mark. The artists I know are not exactly tech savvy! 

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I assume the same rules apply to moving images. There's quite a lot of digitized orphaned small gauge film footage on archive.org – though, of course, not for sale. One of the libraries there, which is something of a goldmine if you're interested in stuff like this, is IICADOM – The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People's Memories

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I once looked through the slides in my aunt's collection and thought the ones taken in Rome were pretty good. That was until I realised that these slides were taken by professional photographers that were regularly sold on to tourists as souvenirs. 

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My wife is an accomplished artist and many of her friends are artists. Many of them are aware of their copyright position. Ownership of a work of art does not include copyright although the buying public are mostly unaware. The digital camera is their friend and often they produce pretty good shots which they can have well printed pretty cheaply.  Serious collectors know the score.

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6 minutes ago, vpics said:

I once looked through the slides in my aunt's collection and thought the ones taken in Rome were pretty good. That was until I realised that these slides were taken by professional photographers that were regularly sold on to tourists as souvenirs. 

 

Yes, I have bought some of those, especially tricky when they have fallen out of their original cardboard frame. I looked to see if some of the companies still exist but had no luck.

 

One in South Africa is/was called 'Rainbow'. Just too broad a search term now that S. Africa is called the Rainbow nation.

 

But even so, isn't there a way that people can share and view these images? It seems such a loss to me.

Edited by geogphotos

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6 minutes ago, Robert M Estall said:

My wife is an accomplished artist and many of her friends are artists. Many of them are aware of their copyright position. Ownership of a work of art does not include copyright although the buying public are mostly unaware. The digital camera is their friend and often they produce pretty good shots which they can have well printed pretty cheaply.  Serious collectors know the score.

 

 

Just out of interest.

 

When the original is sold does your wife, or any of her friends, create any documentation to state that they retain copyright so that the buyer fully understands the situation and avoids any potential embarrassment in the future should they decide to reproduce the original themselves? 

 

Does this ever happen I wonder? I do understand that there is absolutely no obligation to do so.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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17 minutes ago, Thomas Kyhn said:

I assume the same rules apply to moving images. There's quite a lot of digitized orphaned small gauge film footage on archive.org – though, of course, not for sale. One of the libraries there, which is something of a goldmine if you're interested in stuff like this, is IICADOM – The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People's Memories

 

 

Thanks for that link Thomas. That's a really interesting project.

 

It's a bit like the idea mentioned above of having a website where low res Orphan Worked images can be viewed and shared - but I am not even sure of the legality of doing that.

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14 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

Does this ever happen I wonder? I do understand that there is absolutely no obligation to do so.

It reminds me of that programme "Fake or fortune" where sometimes the search for the provenance of an unsigned sketch or painting is considerably aided by a photograph of it propped up in the background of a contemporary photograph of the artist's studio. These days I would have thought it very sensible for an artist to take copies of their works.

Edited by Harry Harrison

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