Photograph Copyrights

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  • I have a question and as I am new to this forum, forgive me if this topic has already been posted.

    I am a librarian in charge of digitizing the library's collection of archived photographs. An outside source has offered a collection of photos to digitize and add to our online collection. However, most of these photos were professionally made back in the 1930s and 1940s with studio stamps on the back. I cannot find that any of these studios are still in business today. These photos had been taken for publications that the source of the collection had put out in the 1930s and 1940s.

    So basically I was wondering if reproducing these photos online would be a breach of copyright law since:

    - the source of the photos had the originals made for publications they produced
    - the creating studios are no longer in existence

    And if I do need someone's permission, who would I contact if the studios are now out of business?

    I have little more than a basic understanding of the intricacies of copyright law. Does anyone have any idea whether or not it would be okay for me to digitize these photos and add them to an online collection? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

    Zac Springer
    Local History Specialist
    Westlake Porter Public Library

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