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   Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
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   Author  Topic: Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?  (Read 6541 times)
Enigmacode
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Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
« on: Jun 18th, 2006, 5:42pm »
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Hello  
 
I've collected a few old postcards that I bought on Ebay.
 
The dates (indicated by postmark) all vary - most are from the 1940's.
 
None of them have any actual copyright indicated. It's my guess, as I've done copyright searches before concerning old LP's, that these postcards may have been copyrighted at one time or another. But a good guess is (if they had copyrights), they are more than likely expired.    
 
Does that neccessarily mean one should profit by using them in a production?
 
No
 
But if your project is created for non-profit, and is not shown the world over, then what would be the harm?
 
Perhaps postcards are not governed by the same copyright laws as magazine photos or music recordings?  
 
Thanx
 
 Wink
« Last Edit: Jun 18th, 2006, 7:03pm by Enigmacode » IP Logged
JimIvey
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Re: Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 19th, 2006, 11:33am »
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First, I'd suggest asking in the Copyright Forum.
 
The answer can be fairly complex because the term of a copyright keeps changing and getting longer, thanks to heavily financed lobbying efforts by Disney and others.  I think a good rule of thumb is that anything newer than "Steamboat Willie" (One of, if not the, first movie staring Mickey Mouse) is still protected by copyright.  But someone with more copyright experience will be able to give you a better chart to determine what the odds are that an older photograph is protected by copyright.
 
For what it's worth, copyrights and patents are intended to eventually result in a wealth of material in the public domain.  Of course, that can't happen if they never expire.  Most people in Congress now seem to think that IP is solely about protecting the rights of creative people and, more particularly, the companies that hire them.  I think that's unfortunate.  I understand that IP was (and should be) about encouraging creativity just enough to enrich us all with the fruits of such creativity.  But, as one commentator on Disney's efforts in the latest Supreme Court case about perpetually extending copyrights said, "since when has what's right prevailed against all the money in the world?"
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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Rob Taft
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Re: Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 22nd, 2006, 7:56am »
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In my view, there is too much emphasis in intellectual property law on what makes sense economically.  
 
There are other issues at stake - do you want kids to have to see the cultural icon mickie mouse smoking a cigar on some billboard as he rides to a baseball game with his family.
 
Yes, it does not make sense to extend rights indefinitely as the idea is to get them in the public domain, but there should be some exceptions.
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JimIvey
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Re: Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 22nd, 2006, 9:27am »
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Ah, I see it's time for one of my favorite anecdotes in response to Disney as the guardian of modern-day family values.  My apologies to the long-time participants here who have heard this story before.
 
My wife used to run a city-owned day care center -- infants up to preschoolers.  On occasion, a parent would bring in a child's favorite video as a sort of pacifier -- to placate the child in times of stress.  On occasion, times of stress would ensue and the video would be played for that child.  On occasion, other children might watch along side.  On occasion, the video would be a Disney video.  
 
So, she received a cease and desist letter from Mickey himself -- stop this illegal theft of my and Minnie's intellectual property or we will sue your arse.  Did it matter that at no time was a Disney video the primary (or even a significant) activity in the day care and that videos were never advertised as an activity provided for the children at the day care?  Nope.  Airing a Disney video in a place of business where someone other than the owner might actually see part of it was enough to get the lawyers' briefs all in a bunch.
 
After that, children who were comforted by Disney videos went uncomforted during times of stress at the day care center.  Hooray for Disney family values!
 
As for "what then protects our children?", we do.  Remember Joe Camel, the cute cartoon camel smoking Camel cigarettes?  If you don't, then all the complaining by parents and child advocates worked.  If you do, it still worked and you remember the controversy from about 10 years ago or so.  But protecting children was never the intent of intellectual property law.  We have other mechanisms for that.
 
Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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Isaac
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Re: Are Old Post Cards Copyrighted?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 22nd, 2006, 9:33am »
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on Jun 22nd, 2006, 9:27am, JimIvey wrote:
Ah, I see it's time for one of my favorite anecdotes in response to Disney as the guardian of modern-day family values.  My apologies to the long-time participants here who have heard this story before.

 
Jim, you seem to have forgotten a basic anecdote telling rule.  You're supposed to add some "facts" with each retelling  Wink
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Isaac
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