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  • Copyright Ethics

    When you are restoring a picture that has a copyright signature, or any signature for that matter, do you try to preserve the signature? Should you put your signature on any image that you restore whether it had a signature originally or not?

  • #2
    Hi Kevin,

    First of all, if there is a copyright, you should contact the owner of the copyright for permission to work on the image. If you have made an honest effort to contact them, but you've run into a dead end, I think it's then a matter of conscience (although there are laws governing this). I would never put my signature on a restoration that I did. But if you feel that your signature is important, it should be very clear that the signature refers strictly to restoration work, and nothing more. The customer should give their okay for this if you wanted to do it (otherwise, you might have problems). Keep your standards high for quality and ethics, and you can't go wrong. Of course this is only my opinion.

    Ed

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    • #3
      If it was a restoration I was doing as a job, I would preserve the original signature. If it was a family photo that I was just doing as a gift or something of the like, it would depend on the circumstance. If it was a photo art print that I had done etc. then I probably would, but again it depends what type of work, whether there was anything originally there, if so what condition it was in (if it was impossible to read what was there, then I might take it out if i couldn't find any way to restore it)

      - David

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      • #4
        If the image was copyrighted, I would ask permission from the person holding the copyright if I could restore the picture. But then the question arises; If a customer asked you to restore the picture that he owns but is copyrighted to another person, should you contact the person holding the copyright or is the customer asking you to restore the picture enough of a permission to restore that image?
        But I wouldn't put my signature on a copyrighted image.

        Tony

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        • #5
          If the customer does not hold the copyright, his permission is not enough, legally. The idea behind the whole copyright issue is that it was enacted to keep others from copying their work, thereby lessening their chances for income. In most cases, the holder of the copyright will grant permission (unless it is a recent copyright), but they might attach a small charge, which could then be passed on to the customer.

          Ed

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          • #6
            Thanks for your input guys. This subject came up recently when I restored a 50 year old picture originally done by Oiln Mills. I didn't make any attempt to contact them because the owner of the picture , my wife, requested the restoration. I preserved the original Olin Mills signature and the copies I printed contained the signature. I assume that the owner of the image has the right to request the restoration? It's very thought provoking.

            The other reason I was thinking about this is I want to display some of my work on the internet. I don't want my work to end up being borrowed by someone else. I wonder if I could include a signature like "Restored By ..." on my restoration work?

            Comment


            • #7
              Kevin,

              We've talked about this issue before on this site. If I'm not mistaken, Jak had a restoration request from someone who owned the picture, but it had a copyright by a portrait studio. She was able to contact them, and they waived the copyright for a small fee. The problem does not lie in the restoration, but in the fact that you need to copy it in order to do the restoration. Common sense indicates that a copyrighted picture will no longer bring revenue to the person holding the copyright (in most cases) after a certain length of time, so many holders of the copyright will allow the restoration to be done with no charge, while others might make a small charge for the privelege. Come to think of it, it might have been Olin Mills that Jak dealt with.

              Regarding the signature on your work, I think it might be a good idea to use it on the web site for the reasons you described. But I don't think it's a good idea to put it on the hard copy for the client. Again, just my opinion.

              Ed

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              • #8
                Thanks for your input Ed. Your opinion means a lot to me. I was thinking along those lines. I have not and will not sign a picture that I didn't create. I believe that I will put a small "Restored By .." on the images I display on the web. That shouldn't give any impression that I was the creator.

                I don't think I'ill run into the problem of restoring a signed image too often, or at least I hope I don't.

                Thanks again Ed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KevinBE
                  Thanks for your input Ed. I believe that I will put a small "Restored By .." on the images I display on the web.
                  You're welcome Kevin. With a note like that on your images, people probably won't want to use your images.

                  Ed

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                  • #10
                    The PHOTOGRAPHER retains the copywrite on the photo reguardless of weather or not there is a signature on the photo.

                    This is a very touchy subject with photographers, as they retain the right unless they specifically sign them away.

                    I have had to contact Owen Mills on several occations to get a copywrite release, they are easy to work with.

                    As a photo restorer, I will NOT work on any piece that has a copywrite on it unless the owner of the photo signs a release that states that they tried to contact the copywrite owner for permission. Releasing me from any and all legal problems that may arise. This covers me in the event that the original photographer is still around.

                    HTH

                    Paul

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                    • #11
                      Thanks Paul, that's good advice. I guess that the copyright is only retained by the original photographer, or is it passed on to his family after death? But without a recognizable signature it will be almost impossible to determine who the photographer was. It can get kind of sticky.

                      I am working on a portrait of my Grandmother and her 2 sisters that was taken 101 years ago. It was obviously taken by a photographer but is unsigned. If the owner of the photo doesn't know who the photographer was I can assume that further investigation will be unproductive?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is a time limit for copyright protection. It's been a while since I read about it, but for some reason, 70 years sticks in my head. There are numerous photographs that were made by people who couldn't care less about copyrights, and others who are impossible to identify. I think you would be on safe ground if a reasonable effort was made to identify the photographer. That could be as simple as having an old photo, and looking for any copyright information on it. If none exists, and you have no idea who the photographer was, it should be safe to assume there won't be a problem.

                        Paul said "The PHOTOGRAPHER retains the copywrite on the photo reguardless of weather or not there is a signature on the photo." I'm not disputing that, because as was stated in another thread, the photo carries copyright protection when a person makes the shot, and that is correct. But I wonder if the photographer was working for a studio, such as Olin Mills, would the copyright belong to the photographer, or Olin Mills? My guess would be Olin Mills.

                        Ed

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                        • #13
                          If the Photographer works for a studio, he/she has most likely signed over any right to the copywrite of photos he/she takes while on the job.

                          If the photographer has an estate, the copywrite then goes to the estate after they pass away.

                          Copywrites are a very stick business. If you make a "reasonable" attempt to find the photographer, or the company that they worked for, then you should be ok.

                          As Ed stated, some of the old shots were taken by people that didn't care about a copywrite much less knew what it was. They were just happy to get paid to take your picture.

                          HTH

                          Paul

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                          • #14
                            Thanks Ed & Paul, this tells me what I need to know. I wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing. I went to the Olan Mills web site to have a look. They offer a copyright release for $10.00 which should be easy to pass along to the client as part of the fee for doing the job.

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                            • #15
                              I had to get a release from Owen Mills onve for a reprint of my parents. The release I received was a blanket release that could be used with ANY Owen Mills shot. I kept it, as it stated that they release any Owen Mills shots that I have.

                              I contacted them through e-mail about the release and was told that any image I have of there's was covered by this release.

                              I don't know if they still do that. Read it carefully when you get it.

                              Paul

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