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Photography Question 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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Legal Question


I was chatting with a friend and we got curious about this..What are the legalities about what happens to your photos after you die? I mean, can you leave them to someone and if you did, could they use them as though they were theirs or what? I guess this is one for Mark.


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5/25/2007 6:01:14 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Good question, Carolyn. Unless it's been transferred or lapsed by operation of law, the copyright of original photos belongs to the individual who created the image in the first place. Those images are property and when the photographer dies, they're part of his/her estate.

At that point, they can be inherited by the persons will or based on their testamentary intent, or absent those things, through the lines of succession to family members or even to the state of the person dies intestate or without a will.

Even though copyright is a federal right and rules of inheritance are creatures of state laws, the ownership, right, title and interest of the copyright would transfer to the person who receives the property under the will and they would hold it under the name of the estate until they either transferred it or until such time as the copyright expires. The copyright info would then be stated as "copyright [year of creation] by Author's name, used with permission of the estate of [Ansel or whomever]".

As I recall, the new holder of the copyright can notify the copyright office that the rights have been transferred, provide proof of the transfer and then renew it as the original author would.

Now the disclaimer: I'm NOT an expert in wills and trust law, so I'd check this further with someone in your state who is and of course, double check with the copyright office.

Take it light. ;>)
Mark
___________________________
Old photographers never die...they just "fade" away.
I gotta go. LOL !!!


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5/25/2007 6:54:45 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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PickYourShots.com
  Thanks Mark!! I'm not planning to die any time soon, but I don't really have any family that would care about them and I know this is a subject nobody ever mentions. I know I'd hate to see all these CD's get sent to the dump when somebody could use them. I think it's something to think about when you get older and I bet most of us never do a thing about it. Thanks for the info!


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5/25/2007 8:32:44 AM

 
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