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Copyright issues

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  #1  
Old 08-02-2002, 06:35 AM
TheTexan TheTexan is offline
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Copyright issues

What are the copyright ramifications of retouching portraits from studios? If someone wants their girl's prom portrait retouched for red eye or backdrop is doing so violating photographer copyright? If anyone knows for sure, where can I go to find the specific code to find out for sure?
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Old 08-02-2002, 10:52 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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I'd like an answer too.

I had a customer a while ago who ran into this copyright thing and was very frustrated by it. Her father had just died and the only nice portrait she had of him also included her mother (who is still living). She took the portrait to several labs and they all told her they couldn't do it because it was a studio portrait and copyright laws prevented them from altering it.

I didn't know what to tell her, but she was so distraught by this time that I did the work for her and she was very happy.

Did I break the law?

Margaret
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Old 08-02-2002, 11:25 AM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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This isn't a complete answer to the question, but perhaps some help.
I spoke with the owner of a camera shop about this, to see how he handled the situation.
He said that he, himself, will call the studio where the photo orginated, to ask for permission - which is usually granted, if the photo is over 2 or 3 years old. (the name of the studio is almost always printed somewhere on the photo).
He said most studios don't hold on to the photos much longer than that, and usually quite cooperative.

Perhaps a call to the studio is all that is necessary. (Ask them to fax or mail a release)
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Old 08-02-2002, 11:34 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Thanks Vikki, I'll keep that in mind.

I had another friend who was trying to get someone to restore an old photo and none of the shops around here would work on it - and the original studio had been out of business for years!

Margaret
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Old 08-02-2002, 11:44 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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I did a search on Google and found this information about Canadian copyright law as it pertains to photographs:

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"Copyright comes into existence automatically, at the time the work was created, and, in the case of most works, it continues until the end of the calendar year in which the author of the work dies (regardless of whether the author has sold or assigned the copyright in the work or not), and continues for an additional period of 50 years. There are some notable exceptions to this rule however. One such exception relates to photographs, which are protected by copyright from the time the photograph was taken, up until the end of the calendar year in which the photograph was taken , and for an additional period of 50 years (that is, the termination date of copyright protection for photographs is linked to the date the photograph was taken, and not the date of the photographer's death).

Each work in which copyright subsists should be marked with a notice in the following form: "© Smith and Company, 1996". That is, the notice should display the copyright symbol ©, followed by the name of the owner of copyright, followed by the year in which the work was published. This notice is to be displayed in such manner and location as to give reasonable notice of a claim of copyright in the work."

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In other words, copyright continues for 50 years after a photograph is taken. Hmmm, I guess I did break the law.

Margaret
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Old 08-02-2002, 03:30 PM
TheTexan TheTexan is offline
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There are several issues here related to artistic and creative properties. One is the almost universally applicable rule of archival for protective and personal purposes.
With software, written and I believe artistic property the owner is entitled an archival copy. This is one of the things Im currious about. Second is the process of restoration. One is entitled to the repair of physical property even though the intelectual ownership is someone elses. For example, when you fix your computer you are repairing numerous items each protected by patents. When a museum restores a piece of artwork or archives it with high definition digital copies they are duplicating the intelectual property of another. Now, how does this apply to what we do? Good question. That's why I asked it.

Many studios give the negatives to the clients. Does this imply permission for reproduction or even actually transfer ownership of copyright. Is the copyright dependent on who owns the negatives? I wouldn't think so.

It seems that this would be of paramount importance to anyone who intends to make money in this business which I do. Maybe someone knows where the rules can be found. Interesting quandry.

Tex
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Old 08-02-2002, 03:41 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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We've had copyright threads on this site before. Katrin Eismann has links to copyright information on her site. The only problem, as I see it, is that it would take a short lifetime to just read the copyright laws. Then it would take a longer lifetime to properly decode the laws for your use. To be safe, it would probably be wise to spend a few bucks to get an attorney's interpretation on how the laws apply to you (preferably in writing that's easy for dummies like us to understand).

Ed
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Old 08-02-2002, 04:30 PM
TheTexan TheTexan is offline
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Can you point me to some of those threads please.

Tex
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Old 08-02-2002, 05:05 PM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Here's a link to US copyright laws:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/

It looks like copyright exists 70 years after the death of the copyright originator in the US. It is 50 years in Canada.

In Canada the copyright of a photograph is 50 years after it is originally made, there doesn't seem to be a distinction in the US law between photographs and other copyrightable property.

In the Canadian law I quoted in an earlier post, it mentions the requirement for the copyright symbol and the name of the copyright holder to appear somewhere on the copyrighted property. Absense of the copyright symbol would not void a copyright, but if it is present, I would steer far clear of touching it - unless as someone else suggested, I could use the information and locate the originator and get their permission to work on the piece.

Hope this helps,
Margaret
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  #10  
Old 08-02-2002, 05:22 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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This was the only one I could find on our forums, although I'm sure there have been others. Copyright issues have been discussed before, but they might be buried in other threads. Sorry I didn't find more for you. I did a search of all forums, and came up with several hits, but maybe I missed the posts I was looking for.

Ed
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