Starting an online photography archive

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by ryan_sandison, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. I am in the process of starting an online photographic archive for my local area and would really appreciate if anyone can help me with the questions below:
    The archive will consist of slides/photographs:
    My photos
    other peoples photos, some purchased from ebay with no idea of photographer
    Probably will also include postcards if possible
    I also have a large batch of glass slides that were used for postcards back in the 40's/50's. These were given to a family member to keep a number of years ago and the photographer (now sought after images) is now dead.
    I may also wish to sell/licence prints in the future to aid community developments and/or use to upgrade website/equipment etc.
    1) How do I deal with copyright issues. Can I display all photos? Do I need permissions? Is there any special thing I need to do?
    2) I am in contact with the photographer of the latest batch of slides I have purchased on ebay. Is there something I can get him to sign to allow use of his images? If you know of anything then does anyone know of a downloadable copy?
    Thank you for all your help. I really appreciate any help I can get on this subject.
  2. Copyright issues can be complex (unless you're the photographer) and you should really seek the advice of an attorney in your area well versed in copyright law. Very generally speaking, assume that you need permissions for everything unless you're the photographer or the photographer has been dead a number of years (varies with jurisdiction but is most often 50 to 75 years).

    If you want the right to license work that someone else produced you need to have that right explicitly from the photographer in question. I.e. you can't buy one of my slides on e-Bay (if they were for sale) and do whatever you want with it. Again, copyright law is complex.

    More often than not purchasing a slide, negative, print etc gives you no rights to use that image, re-sell it, allow others to use it etc. But it varies. Typically these rights are spelled out in a contract between the photographer (or his or her agent) and you, the buyer. If there is no such contract the law sides quite heavily (thankfully) on the side of the creator of the image.

    IANAL, just a photographer. Do yourself a big favor and consult with a local attorney.
  3. Mikael is absolutely right on all counts! You need to investigate the background of each and every photo you've purchased/found/accumulated right down to the initial creator (NOT the seller - unless they happen to be one and the same), and get detailed agreements signed by each one for EACH image in question - otherwise you simply cannot use any of the images.
    Talk to a lawyer. Now. BEFORE you even THINK about proceeding.

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