Determining publication status on photos
- October 21, 2019 @ 11:45amapizzollo says:
Photographs have come up a few times before in the forum, but I'm not seeing the exact topic/answer I'm hoping for.
I struggle with determing if historic photos are published or unpublished. Per the current photograph copyright registration guidelines: "For copyright purposes, a photograph is published on the specific month, day, and year that a copy or multiple copies of that work are distributed to the public for the first time. A photograph is also published when copies of that work are offered to a group of persons for the first time for purposes of further distribution or public display. The public display of a photograph, in and of itself, does not constitute publication." https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ42.pdf
Other circulars on publication status in general talk about limited distribution vs wide distribution/distribution to the public being part of the determination.
If it seems like the photos in question were likely acquired via sale to a small group of people- does that count as published photos? I'm working with photographs of a play's cast. They're group photos of them posing in costume. The cast are students at a college. The photos are pre 1924, but post 1900- so they're copyright status depends on if they are published or not. (since I don't know who the photographer is and therefore don't know their death date). I am working with photograhic prints, not negatives.
What do y'all think? Would you assume these would likely count as published since at least one copy was distributed "to the public" ? Do the cast members alone count as the public? (the prints I have were previously owned by cast members photographed)
If they count as published- well then, there's no copyright notice on the prints, so they're no longer in copyright based on the dates. I've only ever seen one photographic print with a copyright notice on it- in an entirely different situation. Overall, I remain somewhat puzzled on determining if a photogrpah is published or not- unless it's printed in a publication like a newspaper, journal, or book.
Any help you can give is appreciated. For reference, these are the resources I've already consulted:
- November 14, 2019 @ 2:37pmCarrie says:
Photographers themselves have trouble determining if their photos are published or not (true!) I think the definistion in the circular is the best thing to go by. Do we know if the photos were meant for publicity purposes? If so, then I would say they are published. If they were just meant for the small group of actors, I would say unpublished because photos were not distributed or displayed to the public. This is complicated. Have you checked the Compendium - I know there is a section on photographs. https://www.copyright.gov/comp3/index.html
- November 20, 2019 @ 8:32amapizzollo says:
Thanks Carrie! I did check the compendium, I should have included that in my list. I didn't find it incredibly helpful in terms of determining publication status, but still good info of course.
Thank you for your help!
Posting to the forum is only available to users who are logged in.