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Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

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  #1  
Old 08-12-2007, 02:53 PM
Mark Adams's Avatar
Mark Adams Mark Adams is offline
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Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

My senior portrait was taken about 28 years ago by a photographer who is no longer in business. In fact, I believe Mr. Fowler is deceased.

That portrait has been hanging in my father's living room for those 28 years. I recently took down the headed-for-sepia 8 X 10 and tweaked the color back to some semblance of its original colors.

A local quicky photo outlet who shall remain nameless (but rhymes with "mall-wart") refused to sell me a restored print citing copyright. According to the supervisor there, I need only wait another 47 years and I can pay them for the print.

This galls me: Firstly, I can't get another original print because the business ("owner of the intellectual property"), and as far as I know, the original negative no longer exist.

Second, this is my image. I am the model. I should be able to reproduce this image for my personal use, yes?

Finally, I do not recall signing any sort of release or viewing any informational documentation when I sat for the portrait, paid for the portrait, or received the portrait. And if I did sign any document assigning away my rights to said image, I was not yet 18 years of age, and therefore I would argue, I was not competent to enter into any binding contract.

I'm certain that credentialed lawyers and working portrait photographers alike will be quick to explain that the portrait is not my "work" and actually has nothing to do with me. Like the photo printing functionary I talked to, I am sure I will be patiently counseled that this is simply business, and it is necessary so that the hard-working photographer who scraped out a living creating this portrait is protected and not exploited in the marketplace.

Okay, the guy at the counter didn't explain anything to me. Though he was nice, he just passed along what he was told by his supervisor.

I'm not interested in exploiting anyone -- I just want a decent looking portrait of me on my father's wall. This seems a case of copyright law gone stupidly awry.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg Mark's Senior Portrait-orig_small.jpg (52.2 KB, 43 views)
File Type: jpg Mark's Senior Portrait-restored-small.jpg (55.1 KB, 57 views)
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2007, 03:31 PM
BillFrey BillFrey is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

I think we're on the short end of a stick here, but I agree with you.

I had hoped to do restorations as income, but have let that idea go since if I follow the copyright laws I won't be able to work on any picture until 70 yrs. after the death of the copyright owner.

Geez, kind of makes it hard to do restorations legally.
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:25 PM
smak smak is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Have you tried any other places?
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:34 PM
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Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Sort of off subject yet sorta on too.

I took some pictures of my daughter and her fiance for the announcements a couple of weeks ago. When I went to (un-named business as above) to print a couple of hundred wallet-sized photos, I was told that they were professional and could not be printed because I didn't have permission from the photographer. WHAT A LAUGH!!!

I've also been told by said un-named business that 8X12 prints is a waste of time because they won't fit in a standard 8x10 frame. Well...DUH! If I wanted 8x10, I'd ask for 8x10, right? I'm pretty sure she just didn't want to change the paper tray.

My rant for the day.

Janet
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:48 PM
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D Thompson D Thompson is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet Petty View Post
Sort of off subject yet sorta on too.

I took some pictures of my daughter and her fiance for the announcements a couple of weeks ago. When I went to (un-named business as above) to print a couple of hundred wallet-sized photos, I was told that they were professional and could not be printed because I didn't have permission from the photographer. WHAT A LAUGH!!!
Janet
Yeah, I got the same treatment from the same named business a while back after doing my daughter's pregnancy shoot. Most of the others working in the lab of said place know me. It was the first time this one had waited on me. He thought they looked like the work of another studio in town. I thanked him for the compliment and calmly explained they were indeed my shots. After a little more explaining he gave me my prints. I also thanked him for asking, because if someone else had been trying that with my prints I would surely appreciate them not printing them without a release. It can be a double edged sword and the person may just be trying to do their job. You might try one of the online places to get it printed. Never had one of them question anything.
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Old 08-12-2007, 10:34 PM
madclark madclark is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

I think the issue comes down to the difference between commercial applications versus personal use, and in this case archival application.

If the photograph were to be retouched and reproduced for commercial purposes or for large scale reproduction, then you truly should make the effort to try to secure copyright permissions. That would only be fair because the amount of money the photographer or their estate would lose out on might be noteworthy. Turned around, if your senior picture was used for advertising purposes like turning up in a web banner for classmates.com without your express consent, you would be absolutely justified in bringing legal action.

But in this case, where the reproduction was for personal use but more importantly archival application, the law views this a bit differently. You should have an expectation that the work remains in a state similar to when it was originally purchased from the copyright holder. As people have mentioned in other threads, the best way to get a reproduction is from the original negative, so it IS in your best interest to try to track down the source to see if that exists. It's likely that the photographer's work passed down to someone and you are obligated to at least TRY to track them down. But once you've done that, you should feel free to retouch the picture for archival purposes to return it to the original state, but nothing beyond the original state.

As far as dealing with corporate reproduction services like "MallMart" there's no getting around that. They're only doing their job and without being able to offer a specific release they're only protecting themselves. But surely there are many other places that aren't as regulated with competitive prices.
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Old 08-13-2007, 05:01 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Quote:
Originally Posted by madclark View Post
But in this case, where the reproduction was for personal use but more importantly archival application
Do you really expect archival quality from a discount store????
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  #8  
Old 08-13-2007, 06:24 PM
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Mark Adams Mark Adams is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillFrey View Post
Geez, kind of makes it hard to do restorations legally.
Indeed. And what happens when someone like me who can't scan and edit their own images hires you for restoration, then you find out some photog's lawyer is out for your ass because you "violated his copyright?'

How do you get a client to hold you harmless?
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Old 08-13-2007, 06:26 PM
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Mark Adams Mark Adams is offline
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Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Quote:
Originally Posted by smak View Post
Have you tried any other places?
I have. So far so good, but I still don't have the print in hand.

We'll see. But my original rant is premised on the idea that the nickel-and-dime outfit that turned me down is just not trying because some lawyer made the case that it was just easier not to. It should be their loss, but they are literally the only game in town.
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  #10  
Old 08-13-2007, 06:38 PM
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Mark Adams Mark Adams is offline
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Red face Re: Rant/Bitch about copyright and my senior portrait

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet Petty View Post
Sort of off subject yet sorta on too.

I took some pictures of my daughter and her fiance for the announcements a couple of weeks ago. When I went to (un-named business as above) to print a couple of hundred wallet-sized photos, I was told that they were professional and could not be printed because I didn't have permission from the photographer. WHAT A LAUGH!!!

I've also been told by said un-named business that 8X12 prints is a waste of time because they won't fit in a standard 8x10 frame. Well...DUH! If I wanted 8x10, I'd ask for 8x10, right? I'm pretty sure she just didn't want to change the paper tray.

My rant for the day.

Janet
Now that you mention it, I got the same crap at the same place over this image http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/att...2&d=1101270961 several years ago. I wound up doing just what I'm doing with the sr. portrait.

This is the second time they've pulled this. You'd think I'd eventually learn, huh?
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