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copyright laws

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  #61  
Old 07-19-2003, 10:53 PM
dipech dipech is offline
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Hi Everyone,

So let's say there's a photo that was taken prior to 1932 or otherwise is in the "public domain" and I then professionally restore or retouch it. Do I not then own the copyright to that photo since I have "created a new image" even though I did not photograph anyone?

Assuming the answer to the above is yes, if I then make a CD of the photo and give it to a customer, am I impliedly then giving him all rights to do with the photo whatever he wants?

Thanks,
Diane
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  #62  
Old 07-19-2003, 10:58 PM
dipech dipech is offline
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Hi Everyone,

So let's say there's a photo that was taken prior to 1932 or otherwise is in the "public domain" and I then professionally restore or retouch it. Do I not then own the copyright to that photo since I have "created a new image" even though I did not photograph anyone?

Assuming the answer to the above is yes, if I then make a CD of the photo and give it to a customer, am I impliedly then giving him all rights to do with the photo whatever he wants?

Thanks,
Diane
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  #63  
Old 07-19-2003, 11:09 PM
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Kevin Connery Kevin Connery is offline
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Diane, your first question isn't completely straightforward, and I know I don't know the detailed answer. But the second question, while also not straightforward, I can answer.

No....and yes.

You can't give your copyright away 'implicitly'. According to the US Copyright Office (check your specific country's laws if not in the USA), copyright transfers have to be in writing.

That, however, is merely the law. If you turn over a restored photograph, without any associated documentation explaining copyright, you may as well consider it 'given away', no matter what the law says--you won't recover anything (unless you register it and are willing to take a client to federal court), and it's a non-trivial hassle.

In other words, the onus is on you to explain it to your clients. Every bleeping time.
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  #64  
Old 07-19-2003, 11:36 PM
dipech dipech is offline
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Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your reply. I meant to say sell, not just give the CD away to a customer, but it sounds like the result would be the same...

Hmmm, do any of you out there give such copyright documentation to your customers in these situations?

I'd like to hear alot more about the 'No' answer to the first question. Does the law only protect photographers and not also professional retouchers/restorers?? If so, we should protest!

Diane
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  #65  
Old 07-20-2003, 03:57 AM
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Kevin Connery Kevin Connery is offline
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I didn't answer the first one. The no-and-yes is for the second question.

Technically, all art is covered: photography, paintings, sketches, songs, novels, etc. There are some precedents regarding retouching, but they're scattered, and inconsistent depending on the specifics of each case. And I'm NOT current with the case law, which is why I said "I dunno" to that part.
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  #66  
Old 07-20-2003, 06:21 AM
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Trimoon Trimoon is offline
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I've been in the reproduction business for quite a few years now, so I am talking with some experience. I photograph artwork for artists to be reproduced, either by me or by some other print house. The artwork is copyrighted, obviously. Once I photograph it, the image that I create is my work and is copyrighted under the U.S. Copyright Laws. However, the original image still belongs to the artist and I cannot do anything with my image without written permission from the artist. They cannot take the image I created and do anything with it without my WRITTEN permission. Another example is if you have an image of a Rembrandt that is in public domain, you may use the image to create prints for sale. However, if the image you are using was photographed by a photographer, you need his written permission. You cannot simply download an image off the internet and assume it is public domain, because it is a Rembrandt. As for retouching old photos, the image you create is your property under copyright laws. You do not need to register material to the copyright office to receive damages. This is some sort of internet rumor that has been going around for quite some time and is simply not true. However, if you want to register your work, I suggest that you create a CD with a thumbnail of all your work once a month (or whatever intervals you choose) and register that CD. Anything on the CD is covered under the copyright laws, if they are your creation. I have this straight from the copyright office that anything on the CD is officially copyrighted. This is my 2 1/2 cents worth. Remember, I have been doing this for 10 years and my rear has ben covered. Steve
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  #67  
Old 07-20-2003, 10:26 AM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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I've posted some info on this before but just for the sake of clarification for some who have joined this forum since - keep in mind that your copyrights are something the OWNER has to enforce. The legal costs alone on the last copyright I took to court were in excess of $70,000. I won my case and a $6,500 award for the 3 yrs it took to get it to trial. Perhaps not worth the effort but the repro houses and volume finishers in this area were stealing a lot of my work and, because the one that did it had to pay the legal costs, the others stopped after that. That "message" is the reason for most suits that are actually filed.

As far as registering is concerned, if I take a pic it's mine - and the copyright is automatic - if I register the copyright I have "enhanced" that ownership. (kinda like a great retouching job!) The difference is in the amount of damages that I can collect. In the first instance, I believe the maximum (unless changed in the new Laws) was around $200. In the second over $100.k

Bottom line is that the legal costs are a far more important consideration than anything else if you want to steal someone's work or protect your own! First step check the hourly rate of your lawyer.

Jim Conway
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  #68  
Old 07-20-2003, 10:31 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Quote:
So let's say there's a photo that was taken prior to 1932 or otherwise is in the "public domain"
Just thought I'd jump in to muddy the waters.

The above quote seems to suggest that the author thinks copyright extends for 70 years. Not so. Copyright for works created after 1978 extends for 70 years after the DEATH of the creator.

This Library of congress website explains it quite well.

Margaret
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  #69  
Old 07-20-2003, 03:42 PM
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Kevin Connery Kevin Connery is offline
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Jim's interpretation matches mine. When I said you wouldn't recover anything unless you registered it, I meant that the cost of attempting to recover damages would exceed the amount you would receive. If you register, however, legal costs can be awarded, making the violator pay for your having to go to court, reducing the burden on you, albeit only if-and-after you win.

The law is somewhat quirky in that regard. You are "protected" without registering, but the remedies provided for non-registered works are somewhat weak.
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  #70  
Old 07-22-2003, 02:19 AM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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Well, I tried out the information I had about contacting the PPA for permission yesterday.

I had a customer come in who was extremely insistant that I copy her professionally shot picture (taken somewhere in the 1970's). When I called the PPA, the woman I spoke with asked me questions like, "is it marked or stamped in any way?" (no) , and "is it an original photo or a copy? (original)"

She then told me it was "probably" safe to copy it and that I "Probably" wouldn't get in trouble if I copied it, but she would not give me absolute permission to copy it. Without absolute permission, I obviously had to refuse to make the copy.

She also was not helpful in suggesting how to locate the photographer to get the permission needed.

So, contacting the PPA doesn't seem to be the answer after all.
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