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Thread: Old negs

  1. #1
    tjaded's Avatar
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    Old negs

    Hi all--
    One of the many aspects of my love of photography includes buying old negatives/slides/etc from flea markets/ebay. Some of the images I have found are quite nice and I plan to print them. My question comes to the part of showing them--I have no idea who shot these photos so it would be impossible to credit them, but what if someone wants to buy a print? Is there any type of etiquette for such a scenario? Am I making an issue out of a non-issue? Just curious what you might do.
    Thanks
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    Good Afternoon, tjaded,

    Very recently, there was a very similar thread here about copying old photos. If you read through what was posted, you'll find that there are few definite answers. As a starter, however, make sure that it's clear that any prints you might make are from the negatives of an unknown photographer and that you are not claiming the work as originally yours. I'd be most cautious about selling such prints or having them published.

    Konical

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    resummerfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjaded View Post
    .....buying old negatives/slides/etc.....
    If you bought the NEGATIVES, I would guess you bought all the rights as well. Just don't call them your work.
    —Eric

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    davetravis's Avatar
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    What's ethical, and what's legal are 2 different issues.
    If you profit, you best know the difference.
    DT

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    tjaded's Avatar
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    I would only be charging for printing/framing costs...decorative art. Odds are I would not sell them anyway, I would feel really weird about it. Some of the images are just really nice (to my eyes anyway.) Here are a few rough scans:

    http://www.mattosbornephotography.com/found_a.jpg

    http://www.mattosbornephotography.com/found_b.jpg
    Last edited by tjaded; 12-10-2006 at 10:26 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: no html I guess!
    --------------------
    "Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it." -Paul Strand

    www.glasskeyphoto.com

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    I think that it all depends on how old the negatives are. If there is any chance that the original photographer or subject(s) are still alive then this complicates matters. If you are serious about selling copies then you really need to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable in matters such as this. Ethically, you should credit the negatives to an "unknown photographer".

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    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resummerfield View Post
    If you bought the NEGATIVES, I would guess you bought all the rights as well. Just don't call them your work.
    This is what I would have thought also. As with most things, there's going to be many opinions, some of them offered by lawyers, but it's only when you get into a court that you'll know the real answer.
    I would also guess that your "intentions" will play a large part in a courts decision and if it's plainly clear that you've credited an unknown photographer, haven't sold something as your own when it isn't, and that you are working from an original negative that you own, then I have a feeling that it will also be obvious that your intentions weren't dishonest and I doubt there will be much trouble even if you do sell prints.

    Just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it

    cheers

  8. #8
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resummerfield View Post
    If you bought the NEGATIVES, I would guess you bought all the rights as well. Just don't call them your work.
    Possession of the negative does not grant all rights. The photographer or his heirs retain rights until a certain period of time elapses, the image enters the public domain through another way, or the rights are ceded to another party. Copyright laws can be complex and intimidating. Respectful use of another's old images rarely, if ever, results in legal actions. However, the possibility exists. As John says, "Just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it."

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    I don't have a legal opinion, but the A and B image you put up are stunning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by resummerfield View Post
    If you bought the NEGATIVES, I would guess you bought all the rights as well. Just don't call them your work.
    Not really...

    IF you bought negatives, you boghts ownership onto negatives, NOT author rights. Like in magazines for example. Magazine is owner of photograph/negative/silde, but actuall photographer (who works for magazine as employee or on contract) keeps author rights over photograph.

    And how long author rights are valid depends of particular country. In some it is 70 years AFTER death of author (not after making particular work/photograph, but after death of author of that work, do not make mistake on this!), in others it is 90 years after death of author, etc... And then heirs (children or grandchildren or others) inherit belogings of thiere ancestor, in this case work of author. Then, maybe author transferred rights to someone and/or heirs of that third party, and maybe there is written trace of that. Many things can happen...

    So, consulting attorney would be good thing to do...

    For example in my country, law say next:

    Author have rights over his/hers work by finishing that work, Author DO NOT HAVE TO REGISTER anywhere that work as its work. BY making particular work author automaticaly get rights over that work. Authors rights over work is valid 70 years after author death. Author CAN NOT GIVE UP of author rights. He or she can give some rights to other parties too, but can not give up of his/hers rights. Even for works author made for others, author automatically have rights over works, no mater if owner of works can be party other than author itself. No matter in what position author is regarding owner of that work. For example author is photographer in some magazine. In that case, magazine is owner of photographs, have rights to publish, maybe to sell to others photographs, but actuall photographer still have author rights over photographs, and author must allways be mentioned as such. Author can even stop magazine to use photographs, in some circumstances.

    Again, as I am not expert in law, this is only what I read in officialy published document of my government regarding authors rights, I can not give you advice. I would consult attorney who is expert in those things...
    Last edited by haris; 12-14-2006 at 03:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Bosnia... You don't have to be crazy to live here, but it helps...
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