Photos from a State Agency Contract
- January 22, 2008 @ 1:22pmwebsterj says:I purchased a set of aerial photographs done on contract with a state agency. The company retained the negatives. Can we digitize the prints and make them publicly available through a university web site without violating copyright?
- January 22, 2008 @ 3:02pmJanetCroft says:I think we need a little more detail to help you, but it's possible these might be considered government publications. Depending on the laws of your state, state government publications may be in the public domain, and if so, you can scan them.
- January 23, 2008 @ 9:22amwebsterj says:In Oregon, state documents are in the public domain.
- January 23, 2008 @ 3:00pmksmith says:Assuming that it is correct that state documents are not covered by copyright, and I believe that it is, the question will depend heavily on the agreement between the contractor and the state. If the contract specified that the contractor retained copyright, you may need permission in order to scan and display them. I have read that if, on the other hand, a contract with the state is silent about copyright, the presumption in Oregon is that the products of that contract are public domain. But it seems possible to me that such a presumption would be preempted by federal law that is directly on point. Federal rules for work for hire would suggest that, in the absence of an explicit agreement that the photos are work for hire, copyright would be owned by the photographer and would not be subject to the state statutory rule about public domain.
- January 28, 2008 @ 5:53pmFreya Anderson says:For those that aren't in Oregon, I'll mention that it is not necessarily correct that state documents are in the public domain. This varies from state to state. In Alaska, there are differences of opinion, but some agencies do assert their copyright claims.
ksmith covers work for hire, but another situation that seems likely to me is that the photos were done on a contract basis. Since the company retained the negatives, it seems likely that they retained copyright with the contract, but one would need to see the contract to verify this.
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