Under US law, i.e., Title 17, US Code:
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Copyright lasts 70 years beyond death of the author.
Copyright exists from the time of creation.
Without registration, the author of a "work of visual art" can claim authorship and sue for infringement and receive actual damages, but not statutory damages or attorney fees. A "work of visual art" is defined in Section 101, page 7. Specific to photographs is Sec. 101(2)
Note that lxdude's info applies to the US.
In Canada: "The general rule is that copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of the calendar year."
In other words, it's a big goddamn mess.
The state should own all of it, and put it in the public domain, for free use and enjoyment of all. Have it professionally archived, scanned and made available free. 2 or 3 carpetbagging , 'storage wars'-types should not be benefitting/profiteering from this as they have so far.
Copyright, in the US will last as long as Mickey makes money. The duration used to be shorter, but as the expiration date approached Disney lobbied for a longer duration. Mickey Mouse brings in huge money for Disney, as do other characters for their copyright holders. Money buys lobbyists, lobbyists buy legislators, and so the great circle of life continues.
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