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Photography Question 
Wendy P
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2006
 

Old Photographs and Copyright Laws


I have some old family photos that I have been working on restoring and I want to make some decent 8x10's at a quality that my at home printer can't perform. One of the photographs was taken around 1910 by an unknown photographer and the other 2 were taken by Olan Mills between 1949-1951. How old does a photograph have to be before it can legally be copied and not violate copyright laws?


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8/10/2008 6:53:57 PM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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  Good question! Is Olan Mills even in business anymore? I have shots of me when I was a little tiny kid done by them. I suppose you could just clone out their logo?


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8/11/2008 6:43:26 AM

 
Wendy P
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2006
  To be honest, I had to crop off the logo in order to remove 50 something years of dirt and the pictures were starting to mold around the logos anyway. There's several things about photographic copyright that I wonder about. About a year after my husband and I married, the photographer that took our photos passed away and his wife closed the business and burned all his files and negatives of his work. I about choked when I received that letter in the mail, so I can't purchase legal copies of my wedding pictures either. Unless there is a loophole there as well.


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8/11/2008 6:56:56 AM

 
Sarah G   http://www.olanmills.com/

They still exist. E-mail the company and ask if you want.


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8/11/2008 7:06:43 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  The answers to your questions are located at http://www.copyright.gov
or a lawyer specializing in intellectual property laws and in all likelihood a member of the copyright/intellectual property law section of your local county bar association.
Who'd have thunk it eh?
M.


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8/11/2008 9:55:04 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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  I can't see a lot of trouble happening since it's family pictures and she's cleaning them up for family members, not to sell. Who's gonna complain?


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8/11/2008 10:01:20 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  "Who's gonna complain?" No one if doing it yourself. But if you take the photos to a lab they are likely to balk unless you've got a release from the copyright holder.


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8/11/2008 12:56:14 PM

 
Wendy P
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/11/2006
  I'm going to call and double check on this, but I read a couple of articles today that stated that if the photograph was taken prior to 1955, then it is considered public domain and can legally be reproduced. If it was taken after 1955, then it won't be public domain for 20 years unless covered by crown copyright in which it won't be public domain for 50 years. If the photograph was taken on or after January 1, 2005, then it won't be public domain until 70 years after the photographers death. Interesting to know.


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8/11/2008 3:00:38 PM

 
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