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Legal help on 65 year old photo / reprints

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by artographic, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. artographic

    artographic New Member


    To start with sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place I've only just joined and still finding my way round

    I'm sure this will get a "yawn - oh no not again" but it's to do with the mine field of subject release and the legalities of selling photos or re prints with people in them. The difference here might be the age of the photo.

    I have the original photo taken in the late 1940's and one person as the single subject of the shot. Can anyone help with the associated legalities of selling prints of this age and if it is still somehow subject to the current rigorous release form process etc. or does the age make this open for sale without restriction?

    Thanks for your / any help
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  2. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but you've not provided enough information to get a good answer and even if you had, you should seek professional legal advice. The sort of questions you will be asked are likely to be related to who held the copyright and associated moral rights for the original photograph; what was the actual date of the original photograph (copyright usually lasts for 70 years after the death of the last copyright owner); does the photograph portray the subject in an objectionable, derogatory or distorted way; and if the lawyer is on the ball, several other questions depending on your answers to the first three.

    Copyright is a complex area of the law, and from recent events reported on this forum, a contentious one as well.
  3. artographic

    artographic New Member

    Hey, thanks for the response and I expected it to be complex, there never seems to be a simple answer with this sort of query.

    I own the copyright as my father took the picture and I inherited it. The subject is certainly not portrayed in a "objectionable, derogatory or distorted way" it is a grand occasion from the 1948 Olympics and portrays one of the fame bearers en route.

    I was more interested in the legalities relating to the person in the picture.


    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  4. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Not that I am expert. :)

    But if your father is the photographer and it was passed down, I would agree you have the copyright. Do you have the negative or just the print?

    If the shot was in a public place (you might be able to work that out) then release should not apply. The torch carrying is usually on public streets and highway so should free to be shot by any member of the public I would say. It is also possible that the person is no longer alive as well. Finally you are not naming the person are you?

    It seems more of report/press image.

    This has a similar example I reckon to what you are describing in the stadium back then the Olympics was not so commercial ( oh if only it was the same today).

    But the Olympic logo back then is similar to today's so there might be a issues there. Does it feature in the shot?
  5. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    I assume that you do own the copyright, and that other family members don't have a shared claim.

    Not sure that the elapsed period of time has too much to do with it in this instance, the Olympic brand is still very much alive and kicking.

    As I understand it, and assuming that the photo was taken in a public place, a model/property release would be needed only if you intended to use the image for advertising, but not if it were to be used for an editorial purpose, e.g. paper, mag, text book etc.
  6. artographic

    artographic New Member

    Thanks for the additional responses

    I am happy that I am the sole owner of the copyright. Unfortunately the negative was lost some time ago so only have the prints.

    It was taken in the streets and no sign of the Olympic brand other than the torch he is carrying.

    I do ave the name of the person and some detail regarding the athletics club he was with etc. would releasing this info with the sale of the print make a difference / more complicated?

    I am not intending selling this for advertising etc. The intention at this stage was to sell copies as Olympic memorabilia.
  7. Fen

    Fen Well-Known Member

    that would class as commercial use. I would suggest (as someone else said) that you would be better off seeking legal advice rather than just asking here.

    Also, the Olympic torch is considered a copyright/trademark symbol.
  8. artographic

    artographic New Member

    Thanks for all your help. :)
  9. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member

    The kind and thoughtful comments here should not be mistaken for authoritative legal advice. I'm not sure how many people know that specific legislation was passed relating to the London 2012 games, which - together with other statutory and commercial considerations - would make it (IMHO) essential to get specific advice to avoid falling foul of the giant Olympic machine. Take a look here for just some of the considerations and lengths to which "the Olympics" are going to protect their 'brand'.

    It can be done, there may well be opportunities here, but I'd advise checking first!
  10. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    The real problem here is that you would need Counsel's opinion for it to mean much. Solicitors don't tend to know much law which is why they seek Counsel's opinion on anything of substance. Counsel then tends to get an expert opinion on anything esoteric which kept me in funds at one time. Even a written opinion from London Counsel will cost you the best part of £1,000 so it isn't very relevant to most of us.
  11. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member

    Sorry to dig up an oldish thread, but just to reinforce this point, there is an ODA 'guide' to advertising and trading in connection with London 2012 available here [pdf 3.4MB]. Perhaps in anticipation of an increase in legal activity during the games, a number of organisations are now offering training for solicitors relating to the raft of (new) regulations associated with London 2012.
  12. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    31 Incidental inclusion of copyright material.

    (1)Copyright in a work is not infringed by its incidental inclusion in an artistic work, sound recording, film [F1or broadcast].
    (2)Nor is the copyright infringed by the issue to the public of copies, or the playing, showing [F2or communication to the public], of anything whose making was, by virtue of subsection (1), not an infringement of the copyright.
  13. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    It's an interesting point of law. At what point did such restrictions begin to apply? Pre Los Angeles in 1980, the Olympic Games were the antithesis of commercial. Can the IOC claim rights retrospectively when those rights (most likely) weren't restricted at the time of the image being taken.

    It's a quagmire though, and an internet forum isn't the place to look for legal advice.

    My general advice would be, unless you pretty sure that you'll make millions, don't bother. The time, effort and cost required just try and find out whether or not you can sell the items would probably make the venture a non starter.
  14. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    It's a misconception that you need model release forms to use photos of recognisable people commercially.

    IFAIA there's no law requiring models or any one else to have signed releases before photographers can sell the images on.

    The law that is applicable is that of defamation, specifically libel. If a photograph of someone is used in a way that portrays them in a libellous way, e.g. using the image of a happily married couple in an advert for help dealing with domestic violence or erectile dysfunction, then they may have cause to seek damages. It is for this reason that most companies insist on model releases so that they can have free reign over how they use their images.

    Relating this then to the OP's point, if the subject of the image is now deceased then there's no need to worry as laws of defamation relate only to the living.
  15. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Could you direct me to anywhere this mentions photography. The only bit that becomes close is the mention of someone using a mobile phone or tablet and waving it about as an advertisement.

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