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How to get a waiver for old photos?

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Old 03-07-2005, 02:06 PM
keepemcomin's Avatar
keepemcomin keepemcomin is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 56
How to get a waiver for old photos?

My aunt sent me two photos of my grandparents' wedding in 1948. She tried to get them reprinted at a developer, but they wouldn't do it because she didn't have a waiver.

Firstly, I thought a waiver wasn't necessary after 40 years. Am I wrong?

Secondly, how can we go about getting permission from a photographer who is most likely dead by now? Is it worth it to search for his relatives?

Thanks for any advice you can give. These photos are very precious to our family and we would love to have the release for them.
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:29 PM
Juliana Ross's Avatar
Juliana Ross Juliana Ross is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 92
We have a "customer copyright declaration form" here where I work. It may be what you need.
These are available from the Photo Marketing Association International
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Old 04-29-2005, 05:09 AM
chiko321's Avatar
chiko321 chiko321 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Central US
Posts: 18
Copyright tips

usually when taking a photo to an established company for copying or having work done to it, they must worry about liability to phographer rights, therefore most large companies will try to enforce on thier employees compliance of copyright law. From what i understand about making copies of photos that appear to have been taken professionally, where payment was made to a photographer for prints, or where the person with the print does not own the original media (film, digital, plate, etc) - copyright prohibits the reproduction or re-use of any image that has been created less than 75 years ago or 25 years after the death of the photographer. In most cases it is hard to prove either situation with old prints. THEREFORE...the only advice one could offer is finding a private service that will allow for you to sign a waiver of responsibility. Another option is to have the original digitally restored, reprinted with the same dimensions on archival paper with equal or better quality than the original, and then have the originals destroyed. Personally i would go with the waiver option if i had family portraits for personal use only and i didn't plan on selling copies of a particular photo. But just to re-iterate, most larger companies with greater risk of liability losses will NOT formally allow you to make copies of ANY professional photo, even if, for example you took the picture yourself and it looks "too good" - in which case all your digital files should have a means of imprinting EXIF information with your name on it as a means of proving who owns the rights to the digital photo. I hope i covered all bases here.

Last edited by chiko321; 04-29-2005 at 05:24 AM. Reason: trying to add signature
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Old 04-29-2005, 10:25 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Grand Junction CO USA
Posts: 683
I have never heard of anyone "destroying the orginal". I am wondering what that would prove to a judge?

When I am asked to copy old photos that were professionaly done, I take into account just what the customer has done to obtain permission, and what steps I will take to do it. If all attempts fail, then I get the customer to sign a form where he takes all responsability. I do not know for sure if this will really stand up in a court of law, but I have high hopes.

From what I have read about this problem, I think the reasonable approach is one where you have really tried to find the author of the work, and can document that search. The amount of copies that were made, and why/how they are used. If you made several hundred copies, do you really have that many relatives you are handing them out too? Whereas if you make 3 or 4 copies and each of the people still have their copies in their own albums then that seems much more reasonable.

One also has to remember that if you cannot find the author, then how is that person or his heirs going to find you? (Altho I do not think I would ever use this as a reason to copy something).

It is a problem that requires understanding of some very confusing laws, some logical thought and a lot of documeting of what you are doing, along with some luck!


And for us here on this international board, remember that the laws change from country to country!!!!
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