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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Paula E. Marsili
BetterPhoto Member
marsiliphotography.com

member since: 7/17/2005
 

Using photos in collage work


Does anyone know about copyright info on using photos or bits of photos taken from magazines to use in collage work that will later be marketed? Are the copyright implications overwhelming or are these photos public domain and does altering them in the final product make them usable without copyright infringement?

12/13/2008 1:58:25 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Great question Paula. Let me ask you one or two: Why would you think that a publication that's presumably copyrighted, including the work contained in it, whether for advertising or editorial usage, isn't copyrighted; how do you think work gets released into the public domain? What difference do you think the final product makes in terms of the original ownner's copyright? And what constitutes "overwhelming" (copyright) implications?

This is NOT a good place to be asking for and receiving legal advice because if you're sued for something like infringement, you can't rely on what you're told here as a defense either before or during trial. I recommend that you start by doing some reading on the subject of copyright and what it covers. You can start at www.copyright.gov and read up on form VA with its instructions along with various provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Then, get a book on copyright as it applies to photographers and/or artists, and finally, if you still have questions, buy some time from a lawyer specializing in intellectual property, get their opinion in writing, and you be stylin'. Without that, you're essentially rolling the dice and if you lose, it could cost you plenty in terms of penalties, attorney fees, court costs, related expenses, and really bad publicity in your local community.
Take it light ;>)
Mark

12/13/2008 8:37:10 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  One more bit of advice: If you know who holds the copyright, like the publisher or advertiser, whether an individual or corporation, you could write directly to them and ask for permission. You should include a proposal of how you intend to use the work, a sketch of how you and how much of the original image you intend to use, when you plan to do that, and the proposed number of copies. Include a proposed release and send the letter by certified mail. Then wait for a reply. In case you're wondering, lack of response does NOT constitute approval or acceptance. It actually means "no" or "don't".
M.

12/13/2008 8:45:32 PM

 
Paula E. Marsili
BetterPhoto Member
marsiliphotography.com

member since: 7/17/2005
  OK Mark, I have obviously upset you with my question. I apparently did not explain myself enough when I originally asked this question. Let me try. A friend of my mine (yes a real other person)is working on a book that contains stories and activities that go with the stories. The activity cards are contained in envelops that she collaged with bits and pieces she has torn from magazines. She was hoping to have the book published. She does beautiful collage work but I told her that she would have trouble getting it published because of the collage work and it's copyright infringements. I offered to post this question to the photographers at Betterphoto as a first step to unraveling what I thought would be a huge problem for her. Yes, she will need to get an attorney involved if she wants to pursue this but I was just trying to get some basic feedback on the question. By "overwhelming copyright implications" I was refering to the fact that there could well be 20 to 30 collage pieces involved with each envelope and getting copyright releases for all would be, well, overwhelming for her project. Thank you for the information you did give me. I will pass it on.

12/20/2008 12:30:16 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Actually, your question didn't "upset" me in the least. I basically answered it didn't I? Besides, the person who does the infringing is on the hook for it, right? It ain't me babe.
M.

12/20/2008 5:41:09 PM

 

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