The Intellectual Property Law Server

Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register.
Feb 17th, 2020, 7:14pm

Forums Forums Help Help Search Search Members Members Calendar Calendar Login Login Register Register
   Intellectual Property Forums
   Other
   Copyright Forum
(Moderators: Forum Admin, JimIvey, JSonnabend)
   old political cartoons
« Previous topic | Next topic »
Pages: 1 2  Reply Reply Send Topic Send Topic Print Print
   Author  Topic: old political cartoons  (Read 1919 times)
Bob R.
Guest
old political cartoons
« on: Apr 21st, 2005, 3:19pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify Remove Remove

First, thanks for this great site and service!  
 
Here's my question: A now-deceased relative of mine compiled a huge collection of political cartoons from various U.S. newspapers during the early 1940's.  I have a publisher interested in a coffee-table type book of these cartoons.  His first question, however, is what about copyright permissions?  Help!  The cartoonists I've researched are deceased and some of the newspapers are no longer in existence.  So who, if anyone, holds a copyright interest in these works?  I intend to give full credit to each artist in the book's text.  Are these works in the public domain?  Are they the property of the artist's family or the newspaper?  How do I find out?
Thanks for any advice.
IP Logged
mactheknife
Full Member
***




   


Posts: 110
Re: old political cartoons
« Reply #1 on: May 25th, 2005, 2:16pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

First off, there are a whole bunch of people who have experiences similar to yours.  The Copyright Office is currently doing a study on "Orphan Works" (see here).  I was just at a presentation from the attorney in charge of conducting this study and he says that some sort of rulemaking is coming shortly (I think within 180 days?).  So, if you are truly stuck and are willing to hold out for the results of this, there's a possibility that the copyright law or regulations will be amended to allow the use of "Orphan Works" by paying a compulsory license, or with the understanding that if the true copyright owner comes forward that your liability will be reduced.  I would imagine that there will be some "due diligence" requirement, and you'd have to make sure that the cartoons you are looking to publish fit within those requirements.
 
In the meantime, it's not easy to locate copyright owners.  I offer the following not as legal advice (IANAL anyway), but simply as research suggestions:
 
(1) If the cartoons have copyright notices for them, the name in the notice was supposed to be the "copyright proprietor" at the time.  If this is a company that happens to be in business, you could contact them for starters.
 
(2) Contact the newspapers that ARE in print.  If they don't own the copyright, perhaps they know who does.
 
(3) If the cartoonist owned the copyright and then died, his/her copyrights may have been passed to heirs.  It may be possible to locate one or more of these heirs.
 
(4) It's possible the copyrights are held by a third party(ies) who then syndicated the work to the various newspapers.  Sorry, I have no idea how to locate the work here.
 
(5) You can check the various renewal records of the Copyright Office.  I believe they are cataloged by author, title, and copyright claimant; if any of the cartoons were first published in 1950 or after, their renewal records should be available online).  If the cartoons were published before 1950, more likely you'll have to come to dear old Washington to look up the renewal (and original registration) information, if they've got it.
 
Perhaps I'm forgetting something, which others can certainly fill in, but it's a start.  One more thing... while it's possible that some of the cartoons are in the public domain, I would very strongly advise against assuming that this is the case, even if you can't find any information about the copyright owner.
 
Hope this helps!
IP Logged
Isaac
Senior Member
****




   


Posts: 3472
Re: old political cartoons
« Reply #2 on: May 25th, 2005, 8:53pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

Mr. Knife, I think your answer is fantastic.  Back in the old
days (and 1940 would certainly qualify) it was required to
register works before publishing.  I don't know how common it
was to resister things published in a newspaper on a daily basis,
but I would not be overly surprised if cartoonists did not register
their works back then.  But I also would not be shocked if
my guess is way off base.
 
There were also some funky opinions where courts seemed
to bend over backwards to prevent some authors or artists from
losing their rights even if the public got ahold of their work.
 
Also, work-for-hire was not codified back then, so the rules about
who owned what might be a bit fuzzier pre 1978 than they are today.
« Last Edit: May 25th, 2005, 8:56pm by Isaac » IP Logged

Isaac
JSonnabend
Moderator
Senior Member
*****




   
Email

Posts: 2251
Re: old political cartoons
« Reply #3 on: May 26th, 2005, 6:28am »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

I think its Mr. "Theknife".
« Last Edit: May 26th, 2005, 6:28am by JSonnabend » IP Logged

SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
718-832-8810
JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
mactheknife
Full Member
***




   


Posts: 110
Re: old political cartoons
« Reply #4 on: May 26th, 2005, 12:31pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

It's Justin.  Grin
 
Actually, I don't think registration was ever required.  It was certainly possible pre-78 to get a registration in an unpublished work, but copyright was granted on publication with notice, regardless of whether a registration was made.  It was then required to deposit your work with the LOC, but even then you didn't have to apply for a copyright registration (although, who wouldn't?)  However... in order to get a renewal, I think you would have needed a registration to renew in the first place.  Or something.
IP Logged
Pages: 1 2  Reply Reply Send Topic Send Topic Print Print

« Previous topic | Next topic »
Powered by YaBB 1 Gold - SP 1.3.2!
Forum software copyright © 2000-2004 Yet another Bulletin Board