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How to copyright a WWII image?


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#1 cplnorton

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 02:28 PM

Long story short. I just bought a huge photo album off a family of a Marine who was on Iwo Jima. He took a ton of pictures that are incredible to say the least. These I am sure have never been published and are some of the neatest pictures I have ever seen of Iwo Jima.

I want to share these with everyone, but one thing I am worried about is, some are of such significance that they would for sure be copied and maybe even sold online.

I want to stop this. I want these pictures to be shared, but at the same time, I don't want rip off artists using copies of these pics to make money.

So I want to copyright these. How do I do this? The gentleman just passed away and the family didn't want them as they weren't interested and sold them all to me.

If I understand the copyright laws, they would have been with the gentleman who took the pictures. Then when he passed they would have transferred to his daughter. I bought them off the daughter, the pics that is. I have the original pcitures and there are no known negatives that anyone is aware of.

I do not believe even thought I bought all the original pics, I do not own the rights to them legally. I believe those rights would still be with the family. Do I have to have papers drawn up and signed by the family to transfer the rights to me to copyright them?

How does this all work?

#2 oldfireguy

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 02:45 PM

You might want to run this by an attorney who works with copyrights.

#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:37 PM

You could scan them at low resolution (say no more than 640x480) and only post them with watermarks on them saying something like SCANNED IMAGE PROPERTY OF JOE BLOW - which would be correct since the scan is your work. I can't even imagine paying the cost to get a lawyer involved unless you planned to make big bucks off the photos yourself.

#4 Jack's Son

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:57 PM

When you involve a lawyer, everyone else looses! :pinch:

#5 Bluehawk

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 06:07 PM

... The gentleman just passed away and the family didn't want them as they weren't interested and sold them all to me.

If I understand the copyright laws, they would have been with the gentleman who took the pictures. Then when he passed they would have transferred to his daughter. I bought them off the daughter...

...Do I have to have papers drawn up and signed by the family to transfer the rights to me to copyright them?

IF all the above is true, THEN yes, "... have papers drawn up and signed by the family to transfer the rights to me..."

So long as the following facts can be established:

1. The transaction was exchanged for fair and just consideration

2. Neither party was under any duress to complete the transaction

3. All legally responsible parties sign the agreement and have standing to perform the transfer

4. The agreement is explicit as to what is being transferred, for what sum and with what understanding(s) - e.g. that copyright along with all right, title and interest is being given to the new owner

5. That all elements of the transfer are contained within the four corners of the agreement (an inventory listing would be extremely important to include as an attachment)

You don't need an attorney to do that for you if done correctly, but it must be notarized.

#6 uplandmod

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 06:10 PM

Have the family pass the copyrights to you, as technically although you own the pictures they still own the copyrights. I don't think you can start a brand new copyright if the estate still owns the pictures.

I would suggest having a lawyer write up a form stating that the estate pass the copyright to you and pay the family for them.

Onced transferred you can go with what was suggested above small files with watermarks.

The hard part is policing your pictures once they get out which is going to happen.

But at least you have the legal authority to pursue any action if so
Somebody becomes shady.

Talk to a copyright lawyer.

Good luck!

Leonardo

Edited by uplandmod, 15 July 2012 - 06:12 PM.


#7 cplnorton

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 06:21 AM

Thanks so much guys! That is what I needed to know!


Steve

#8 jgawne

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 11:10 AM

you are going to have trouble no matter what you do. Copyright law was different then- it was before "you create it own it." You had to actually file for copyright to get it. And if there had been a public showing of them the counter starst for the first 28 years to file. Any letter form the family is going to also need ot take into account that the signer is actually the executor of the guy's estate. He quite possibly could have left everything to someone else in his will.

And there is also a weird little thing someone can always claim- that it was forbidden for any soldiers to take photos- unless it wqs official business. If it was official business (i.e. he was a photog or an officer told him to take them (which thus means it became part of his job) they are public domain and cannot be copyrighted. There is an argument that ANY wartime photos thus are either illegal (as in breaking the law) or done as part of a soldiers duty and thus public domain. Generally photo copyright tends to transfer with the negatives, not prints. And no matter what anyone says just owning them is not enough to claim copyright. If you do not have the negatives, its hard to claim that he took them- not just got copies from someone else.

You will probably end up paying a lawyer a GREAT deal of money, it will still not protect you against possible counterclaims if the negs turn up, and people will still steal them from you (trust you, I know all too well).

Your best bet is to guard any high resolution copies like gold. watermark them. do not let anyone have high resolution copies unless you trust them really well. You can figure out the highlest size and resultion you can let people can see them at so they can't be well reproduced and allow those to be on the web. keeping in mind web resolution is generally 72 dpi, and the standard for a decent print resultion is 244 dpi (although you can go a lot lower but lose quality).

Copyright is something that EVERYONE is an expert on, except for the real experts who know that there are no easy answers and it's a minefield.

#9 124cav

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 03:51 PM

I have had some experience with photos from my collection being published without permission,and as a result i watermark pretty much everything.

#10 gauthieb3sxz

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 03:37 PM

I have had some experience with photos from my collection being published without permission,and as a result i watermark pretty much everything.



Also, Marine photo albums are often comprised of shots not taken by the owner of the album. I've seen dozens of albums that were compiled by a "buddy" who sent copies of photos to his friends. Make sure you know he took the photos before trying anything.

#11 MasonK

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 11:43 AM

Rather than creating a new thread, thought I would pose a similar question on this one. I have quite a few photo negatives that I believe are of significance. I've scanned them and they have peen posted on the forum, all with watermarks.

 

So, I purchased the negatives. The only NOK of the vet, his son, recently passed away. No other surviving family members. I know this because the state is currently handling the disposition of the estate of the vet and his son as they were unable to locate any other NOK.

 

Seeing as I can't have the vet or NOK sign a notarized document passing ownership, and the negatives were in essence sold by those handling the disposition of the estate, am I now the legal owner of the photos?

 

Obviously, any advise given would not be legally binding. Just curious if anyone has run into any similar circumstances. 



#12 Flashlarue

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:16 PM

My understanding as a photographer is currently you cannot copyright any photo you yourself did not take. Photos taken of deer using automatic trail camera cannot be copyrighted as well as any photo someone else took using your camera. You can own the photos but a watermark is the only way I know to keep them from being copied.

#13 MasonK

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:23 PM

Thanks! So hypothetically, were I to send high resolution scans of the photos, without watermark, to someone looking to use photos in a publication, unless there was a written agreement between myself and that person, they could essentially copy and or distribute the photos without my permission?

 

And to that, anyone in receipt of those photos could publish them as well?


Edited by MasonK, 11 February 2015 - 12:24 PM.


#14 Flashlarue

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:44 PM

Photos are a minefield for copyrights. Used by permission in a book I think the image in the book falls under to book's copyright however the same image posted on the Internet may not have the same protection as long as the person copying and using the image is no doing so for profit or gain. Again there is a lot of murky water in application of the copyright laws.

#15 Flashlarue

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:52 PM

Even school photos of your children fall under the copyright laws. Even though it is your child and you bought the photos try to get a photo studio to copy them for you. But if the same school type photos are over a certain age anyone can copy them.

I took my children's senior photos. I had a heck of a time being allowed to make copies of my own photos because I didn't have a written release from the "photo studio."

#16 MasonK

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:54 PM

I understand the monetary gain aspect. I guess I'm leaning more towards, I'm sharing the collection of digital copies of these photos with you to use in your publication. You use some of them, and at the same time, distribute the images not used to other people without my permission. The photos are then used in other publications or online, etc. 

 

I don't think this would ever happen and I'm not looking for any money out of the images being used, but I would like some control over how the photos are being used, especially if in a manner where those subsequent individuals can make a monetary gain. 

 

I don't think I can officially copyright the photos. From what I was reading, the copyright remains with the person who took the photos for their lifetime, plus 70 years (read this on a website, so not sure how accurate). 



#17 Bill Scott

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 12:58 PM

My question is why would you want to copyright photos or images of anything unless it has to do with business images or artistic images.So what if someone puts an image of something you owned on the net you own the original with documentation and they will always be yours.The cost of the lawyer and the hassle is a lose lose for you.I have owned hundreds of unpublished photo both U.S. and German and if it were me I would let them become part of WW2 history and let everyone enjoy them without reservation.A copy of your images is still a copy nothing less.Scotty

#18 Zippo66

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:32 PM

I have a similar situation with a group of 5th air force nose art photographs. My wife inherited them when her uncle died. There are two photographs of the historic B17 named "Lucy" that later was called Old 666. Two crew members received the medal of honor for a mapping mission over Bougainville. There are no known published photographs in existence of this plane. I would like to share the photos for. Thinking about putting watermark - In Memory of veterans name across photos.



#19 MasonK

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:38 PM

Scotty, I don't disagree with you and at the end of the day, I don't think I would spend the money to copyright (if I even legally can) them or take someone to court were they used elsewhere without permission.

 

I'm asking as more of a curiosity than looking for legal advise that can be used to act upon. The images in question are on this forum, perpetuated for all to see. I prefer it this way and is part of why I share everything from my collection online, in hopes that that veteran's legacy lives on or for another collector to learn from.

 

If someone wants to use the photos in a publication, I'm all for it. The more history that can be spread, the better, in my opinion. I was really only curious about that small fraction of a percent, where there could be an instance of someone taking your photo, without permission, and publishing it. You paid for the photo and are paying for it's upkeep. You shared it for all to view for free, however now someone is using it to make a monetary gain. 

 

Were it happen to me, I would likely be flattered that someone considered an item I had to be important enough to use in a publication. However, at the same time, I might be a little upset that they didn't check with me first before doing so. 

 

with that said, I guess at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the answer is, however I am curious. 


Edited by MasonK, 11 February 2015 - 01:41 PM.


#20 the330thbg

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Posted 28 April 2015 - 07:27 AM

My question is why would you want to copyright photos or images of anything unless it has to do with business images or artistic images.So what if someone puts an image of something you owned on the net you own the original with documentation and they will always be yours.The cost of the lawyer and the hassle is a lose lose for you.I have owned hundreds of unpublished photo both U.S. and German and if it were me I would let them become part of WW2 history and let everyone enjoy them without reservation.A copy of your images is still a copy nothing less.Scotty

as long as the person who 'borrowed' your image does the honorable mention of where the photo was borrowed from.. no worries.

 

from the '99th Battalion' collection.., etc.

 

It is when they deny that they 'borrowed' the photo, when you know they did and they refuse to acknowledge it, is where it gets interesting.


Edited by the330thbg, 28 April 2015 - 07:28 AM.


#21 Mr.Jerry

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Posted 28 April 2015 - 09:40 AM

What sucks are "Public" museums and such that have great photo archves, but if I want to use and electronic copyof a photo for the book I am writing they cost upwards of $250 each! (Plus the actual "copying" costs")



#22 the330thbg

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Posted 28 April 2015 - 11:27 AM

Good Grief!  I guess they figured if you are making a profit.., why can't they?

 

I have never had an issue borrowing images for my endeavors.  I am non-profit and just do this to honor the men of my Dad's Bomb Group.  I have never had an issue.  

 

I have had LOTS of people 'lift' my photos and hard work.  The only thing I want in return is an acknowledgement of where they 'lifted' it from.



#23 broker

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 01:43 PM

120 years from the creation of the work - pre-1882 unpublished material will no longer protected after December 31, 2002. New material will be effected each year, unpublished material from 1883 will loose protection December 31, 2003, etc.

 

Works created but not published or copyrighted before January 1, 1978 that are subsequently published before December 31, 2002 are protected until at least December 31, 2047 or until the earliest of the following conditions are met:

 

-70 years after the death of the author or longest surviving author for joint works.

 

 
-95 years after publication for anonymous works or works made for hire.

Edited by broker, 24 June 2016 - 01:47 PM.


#24 Niner Alpha

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 10:29 AM

I was browsing ebay and noticed a Vietnam era compass for sale.  The date of the compass was stated as 1971.  Then I looked at his photos and there was one photo in the batch that showed a soldier with a like compass in his hand.  That photo was of me and he had gotten it through some kind of Google search or he had gotten it from a post at my website.  What he seemed to be suggesting was that the compass he was selling was the same one in the photo of me holding a compass.  But.. the image was from an old snapshot with the margin  showing the date of 1970  printed as the year of development...... just barely visible from an enlarged image.   If someone looked closely it would have been obvious that compass in the photo couldn't have been a 1971 production model..  

 

I messaged the seller ...who had pages and pages of military stuff on ebay.. and he said it was "public domain'" since it was found in an Google search and he wasn't removing it nor stating there was no connection between the photo and the compass.  Ebay apparently wasn't interested.  In any case, after several weeks of not selling at $68 or $69 opening bid it went away only to be relisted.....but this time without my photo.   


Edited by Niner Alpha, 25 June 2016 - 10:30 AM.


#25 broker

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 09:13 PM

I was browsing ebay and noticed a Vietnam era compass for sale.  The date of the compass was stated as 1971.  Then I looked at his photos and there was one photo in the batch that showed a soldier with a like compass in his hand.  That photo was of me and he had gotten it through some kind of Google search or he had gotten it from a post at my website.  What he seemed to be suggesting was that the compass he was selling was the same one in the photo of me holding a compass.  But.. the image was from an old snapshot with the margin  showing the date of 1970  printed as the year of development...... just barely visible from an enlarged image.   If someone looked closely it would have been obvious that compass in the photo couldn't have been a 1971 production model..  

 

I messaged the seller ...who had pages and pages of military stuff on ebay.. and he said it was "public domain'" since it was found in an Google search and he wasn't removing it nor stating there was no connection between the photo and the compass.  Ebay apparently wasn't interested.  In any case, after several weeks of not selling at $68 or $69 opening bid it went away only to be relisted.....but this time without my photo.   

 

Yup, a lot of people think that anything they find on the internet is public domain, they are often totally wrong.




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