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   Copywrite on old family photos
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   Author  Topic: Copywrite on old family photos  (Read 2116 times)
WavyDavy67
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Copywrite on old family photos
« on: Apr 7th, 2005, 4:17pm »
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I have quite a few old portrait photos of long-dead family members from the 1870's and 1880's.  I recently tried to have some copies made, to give to other family members, at my local Walmart using a Kodak picture maker.  They refused to let me keep the copies and told me that without a release it was illegal for me to copy these photos.  Is this true?  And if so, can someone explain to me the rationale?  The people in the picture and the photographers have been dead for over 100 years, and the portrait studios have probably been gone just as long, if not longer.  What possible reason can there be for keeping me from making copies of photos of my great-great-great grandfather? Huh  Thanks! ??
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Scott Lebson
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Re: Copywrite on old family photos
« Reply #1 on: Apr 7th, 2005, 4:54pm »
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The copyright is almost certainly expired.  However, their policy is most likely a blanket policy for matters of this nature and the employee probably has little discretion.  Unless you can obtain a release, which you probably cannot, take your business elsewhere.  Walmart is not the only store capable of providing the services you need......or are they?!
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WavyDavy67
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Re: Copywrite on old family photos
« Reply #2 on: Apr 7th, 2005, 9:15pm »
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I was told that the law had changed and that now the copywrites don't expire unless there are no living descendants left of the original photographer.  Sounded like a bunch of BS to me. Angry
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JSonnabend
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Re: Copywrite on old family photos
« Reply #3 on: Apr 8th, 2005, 8:49am »
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Releases are not about copyright, they're about individual rights of privacy, etc.  The employee had no idea what he was talking about, apparently.
 
The advice you've already received is the best, I believe: take your business elsewhere.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
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JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
Isaac
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Re: Copywrite on old family photos
« Reply #4 on: Apr 8th, 2005, 8:34pm »
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It sounds like the employee was misquoting what he was told
about copyright law.  It's true that the law concerning
what happens to copyright after you die was recently changed
so that rights are less likely to be without an owner.  But
none of that extended the term of copyright so that pre 1900
photographs would be covered.
 
I've heard of this kind of thing happening at photo places
other than Walmart.  I suspect that they are afraid of getting
into the kind of sc****s Kinkos and other copying places have
gotten into.
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Isaac
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