selling photos printed off old expired film

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by spoolman, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    I recently purchased a whole whack of old expired B&W film off ebay and I would like feedback on whether it would be proper to sell prints off of any images that these rolls have.I don't plan to take any credit just put a stamp saying from the collection of...


    Doug:smile:
     
  2. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    Under UK law, the photos would be the copyright of the photographer, or, if a professional photographer, the copyright of the person who commissioned the pictures. So, unless the films were sold to you "with copyright" of the images, you would be potentially in breach of this if you sold prints.

    In practice, or with really ancient film, you might "get away" with it, but.......
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Well they aren't your copyright so there could be issues. I'd wait and see what's on them.

    Ian
     
  4. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    It depends on how old the negatives are in the U.K. copyright on printed matter lasts until fifty years after the death of the author.
     
  5. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    With you holding the negatives it can be hard for someone else to prove that they own the copyright, but from a legal point of view you cannot sell prints from them if you do not have permission to do so (either if you have permission from the copyright owner or the copyright has expired).
    You are, however, free to sell the film or print copies for your own personal use.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Don't you mean exposed film?

    First, I'm not a lawyer. How old are they? Did you buy them from the photographer? If not, did the seller know the photographer? Who or what's on the film?
     
  7. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    A quote from the US patent and trademark office (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/copyright/copyrightrefresher.htm):

    "For works created by individual authors on or after January 1, 1978, copyright protection begins at the moment of creation and lasts for a period of 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work” (prepared by two or more authors) the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. "

    What is unclear to me is the meaning of "at the moment of creation". Does that mean at the moment the exposure was made? Probably not, since the creative work is not completed at that point, at least not with print film. Does it mean at the moment of development of the negatives? Does it mean when the print was made? I don't know, but these seem to be important questions.

    It seems to me that if you develop and print the film then it is a "joint work", and you would have equal interest to the work with the person who snapped the shutter. Under US patent law (which may or may not apply to copyright law, I don't know) unless there is an agreement of other provisions to the contrary, all inventors have 100% undivided interest in the work, which means that each can market or use the work without permission from the others. If copyright law works the same way, and if developing and printing the photos counts as part of the creation, making it a joint work, then it would seem to me that you would be free to sell the work without permission from the persons who snapped the photos.

    I am not a lawyer, so take my comments with a grain of salt.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    processing the film+printing it has nothing to do with its creation.
    creating a photograph happens in a camera with film or paper,
    not in the darkroom with an enlarger.

    for copyright laws to be enforced, in the usa at least, the images
    have to be registered with the copyright office, or it is not easy to declare ownership / creatorship
    and if there is an issue, you won't be able to get a judge to hear the case. registration is needed.
    if the film was abandoned / orphaned you might have a chance because of new laws
    that suggest if you look for the owners and can't find them
    you can use their work without consent ...

    i'm no lawyer either so take my comments with a grain of salt as well ...
     
  9. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    CGW, I asked the seller where these rolls came from and he said they were in a box he bought at a flea market and did not know who shot them or where they originally came from.I doubt I'll get any useable images but I decided to float this question to see what the response was.

    If tere are any printable images,I'll probably make one print for my collection and thats it.

    Doug:smile:
     
  10. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    Ian that is exactly what I plan to do.If there are any useable images I'll make a print for my self and store the negs away.Thanks all for your input.

    Doug:smile:
     
  11. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    .
    Somewhat Similar To The Vivian Maier Situation ...

    Are those { Vivians } prints also being sold, or only for exhibition ?


    Ron
    .
     
  12. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Well, that's one point of view, but not one that is universally accepted. There are whole books and courses devoted to creativity in the darkroom, and many famous photographers consider darkroom work to be as important in the creative process as exposing the film.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I don't think John disagrees with you - but questions of photographic copyright are usually determined by examining who took the photograph, and when.

    I think of it as being akin to music. While there are additional issues of performer's copyright that arise when music is performed, that doesn't extinguish the copyright interests of the original composer.
     
  14. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    Are you familiar with this site: http://westfordcomp.com/updated/found.htm ?

    It might be worth contacting its owner and asking what issues have arisen and how they were handled. He seems to have been doing this for a while.

    My understanding is that even if an owner came forth and could establish copyright ownership, they could enjoin further use but only recover the amount of actual losses suffered, which in this case would be zero. It would be nice if someone knowledgeable could chime in on legalities here.
     
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    exactly matt !

    i agree alan, darkroom work is as much photography, as the exposure in the camera
    but unfortunately the copyright office only looks at the issue of exposure ( pressing the button ) .
    i think of it like when devo did a cover of "( i can't get no ) satisfaction" .
    their version KILLED ( the stones said it was better than theirs ) but, the stones still get paid.

    oh well ...

    its a great question, and i am imagining the legal calisthenics one might have to go through to make a courtroom
    understand darkroom work, especially in a day and age when a button is pressed, and the camera is co-axed to a ink jet printer
    and IT prints the photos without any darkroom ( or light room ) work at all ... i think a jury would be utterly confused ...
     
  16. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Has the "creator" of a photo been defined, either in the law itself or in case law?
     
  17. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    ...this brings up a lot of interesting philosophical questions of art ownership. I know Laura is a lawyer and active APUG member who is very helpful in these matters. Hopefully she chimes in.

    What if you reloaded the film and did a series of double exposures? Who would own it then? What if you got creative with the film developing and printing? My impression is that there is no ownership unless that person was to develop it because the intension of ownership is not there. If I threw out a table that I built and someone picked it up off the curb and refurbished it to sell, could I realistically come back and say "that's my table, now give me my cut?" -not likely. But I'd have to think about it long and hard to draw the line somewhere that is consistent and logical.

    I've seen artists sell images they have found before and displayed them in an interesting wait and call it "their piece" in very prestigious galleries.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Legal issues aside, the chance that the original photographer is ever going to see any prints made from these negatives and realise they are his is effectively zero.

    As the OP only intends to make prints for himself, there are no legal issues anyway.


    Steve.