General Interest

Copyright Issues

Hi Everyone,

I notice there are many family history books, autobiographies, and memoirs in the book store. My book will be the autobiography of a senior citizen who has collected many pictures, documents, and newspaper articles over the years.

My question is, how do you resolve copyright issues when dealing with photos taken 30, 40, 50, or more years ago?

It would be nearly impossible to track down photographers from so long ago to get permission to use them, but is that even needed? Do I need permission of the other people in the photos to use their likenesses in the book? (Again, nearly impossible to track down, even those who may be still living.)The more I read about copyright protection, the more confusing it becomes.

I am wondering how others have dealt with this issue and would appreciate any advice :)

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
karri
Jul 26, 2007 7:37pm PDT
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karri
 

Have you try to Google on US Copyright site?

I can’t remember where is the link to download the info. But if you download “How To Make A Book” PDF format, there is more information on links to copyright websites and such.

If you registered with US Copyright/Trade office and pay appropriate fees, it will be good for 70 years, I believe. I am not an attorney myself, but I understand the issues involving copyright and such.

Copyright law and regulation is very broad. Just because, it is huge, complicated topic. Not easy stuff to deal with. That is why we have specialized lawyers trained for this field.

If you are overly concerned about certain images, then don’t post certain images on the Internet. Or if you want, you could put in watermark with transparency all over your images. I know it is ugly, but it protects you. I’d go on this forever. But I think my suggestion about downloading that PDF file, this will help direct you to the right path.

Let me find some links and get this back to you sometime on Friday or on the weekend.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Jul 26, 2007 10:41pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

I’d ask a lawyer, such as: http://www.krages.com

Posted by
Michal
Jul 27, 2007 4:53am PDT
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Michal
 

The best thing to do is to call the Copyright Office, go to their main web page and there is a phone number you can call to get to speak to an employee that can answer your questions.  Yes, you will need to get permission from the copyright holder to use those photographs.  Copyright lasts the entire life time of the person plus a certain amount of time after that.  Unless your pictures fall into the "public domain" where copyright has expired you can’t publish the work without the permission of the original copyright holder.

 As far as permission of the people in the pictures, the original photographer should have gotten a release for any person that is identifiable.  You have to get permission of the copyright holder to use it and that probably is the actual photographer of the imaget, so I would assume that the release would extend if you get permission.  I don’t think this applies if the picture is taken for "news related" purposes.   This is the grey area where the tabloids get in trouble for publishing pictures of stars without their consent and often have to pay big bucks for the pictures.   

 Copyright is confusing, but it is not as bad as it seems when you read for hours at a time.  I believe the site is www.copyright.org.  If you google it, you will want to follow the link to the US Copyright Office.  It probably is the first one that pops up. 

If you go to the Copyright webpage there are lots of FAQs and good examples of items and if you are still confused calling them is often very helpful.   

Posted by
poetress
Jul 31, 2007 1:17pm PDT
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poetress
 

First you need to think of is WHO might want to sue you for copyrights violation, and WHY. It doesn’t work automatically <del>- somebody need to have enough reasons to go to court and do that (which means initial legal expenses on their side).  And unless you made a lot of money with your book (which I don’t think is a case if you’re self-publishing few copies here), the only case somebody might want to persecute you is if you are extremely wealthy. But if this is a case you might already have lawyer(s) taking care of you -</del> so ask them. My expectation <del>- they’ll suggest you to use a corporation registered for this particualr project (so no personal liability) as a publisher, and then the only action against you really possible even if somebody will actually sue you, will be to stop selling the book with images they claim you don’t have permission to use. <a href="http://www.delawareintercorp.com/cost.htm">Cost of registering a corporation in Delawre</a> is comparable to cost of pringing few books here. By the way, you may close this corporation after you’re done with this (so no annual fee to support its’ existance, but also -</del> no way to print more copies defended by that corp name).

 

Posted by
earlyadopter
Aug 1, 2007 11:49am PDT
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earlyadopter
 

Thanks for all the great feedback … We are in the process of tracking down as many people as possible to obtain signed release forms. Also, we  will order copies just for the immediate family at first, until we obtain all releases and/or remove those images without releases.

Again, thanks for all the helpful information; any further knowledge or experiences of others will be appreciated as well :)

Posted by
karri
Aug 4, 2007 4:06am PDT
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karri
 

I just want to add that it’s awesome that you’re taking the time to seek out those individuals in your photos and do things "right", as far as copyright goes. SO MANY folks don’t even bother.

As a professional artist, I applaude your efforts and thank you. 

Posted by
redmeg8
Aug 4, 2007 8:38am PDT
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redmeg8