Who Holds the Copyright? – Part II

So….before I give you the really well thought out conclusion that Gary sent me a few days after his first email, I thought I would share my initial answer to him and a few of the comments …..

My initial response ……. Wow interesting question! I think you are probably safe assuming he won’t push for copyright. I think I’d call it a verbal contract giving you ownership when he agreed to take it with your equipment. But a lawyer could argue the other side.  I think I’ll throw this up on the copyright blog after new years and see what the feedback is. Do you mind if I quote from your email?

Genealogy Lady commented “That sounds like a really tough issue especially since the photographer is unknown and honestly probably wouldn’t even remember that he took the picture in the first place.”  and others sending comments privately echoed the same sentiment, with a few adding in my thought that “lawyers” might argue diffenently.

A now for Gary’s thoughts…………More from Las Vegas. I must admit that my copyright question has me pondering more each day. Here are 2 additional thoughts on my question.

1 – This past holiday season I used the photo in question on my Christmas cards. Like my others, I used an on-line photo processing service. Part of their ordering process is to affirm that “…I acknowledge that I own the copyright to the images in my order… . I clicked “Yes”. In total, 3 of the 5 photos I used on the card were taken by someone else, using my camera. If the mere act of snapping someone’s photo on their camera constitutes owning the copyright, then hundreds of thousands of Americans violated copyright law this year.

2 – I propose that I own the copyright for my photo because of the following facts: my wife decided where the photographer would stand, and where the subjects would stand; she adjusted the camera’s zoom lens to the desired setting, and adjusted other settings within the camera. The “unknown” photographer, simply held the camera at eye level, framed the photo as previously set up, and pressed the shutter button. In fact, the first photo he took was unacceptable to us, and we asked him to take a second photo. In my mind, my wife contributed 90% of the creativity of the photo, while the “button presser” contributed only 10%. If we had had a tripod with us, we could have taken the same photo without his assistance!

Gary has sold me.  I vote that he owns his pictures.  Did he convince you?  Take the poll on the right hand side of this blog.

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Filed under Copyright, Genealogy

Who holds the copyright?

Last month after presenting my talk on Copyright Issues for 21st Century Genealogists for the Clark County Nevada Genealogical Society, I received an email from a member who had attending asking a question to which I had no simple answer.  I am going to present the question here in his words, with his permission, and  we both welcome opinions and discussion from all of you.

So the question is….

I have a real life question on copyright as it applies to photographs.

During a recent vacation, I handed my camera to a random gentleman whom I asked to take my photo. The photo he took with my camera is SUPERB!!! The question is…Who owns the copyright? I have the only .jpg file of the photo, yet someone (whom I cannot identify) took the photo. If he is the copyright owner, I cannot enter the photo in any contest or publish it in a book of my photos.  (G. Shull)

Watch the blog next week for the conclusion Gary reached.  Will it agree with yours?

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Filed under Copyright, Ethics, Genealogy

Educational Materials

As I gave my last presentation of “But It’s My Family….Copyright issues for the 21st Century Genealogical Community” in Las Vegas last week my hope was that someone else would take up the mission of discussing copyright issues with genealogists and genealogical societies.  I would like to make my presentation materials available to anyone that would like to do so or to any society that would like to share with it’s members.  Feel free to download, change, enhance, share or anything else that would be useful in helping the genealogical community understand the issues of copyright.  Links to the PowerPoint presentation and to the PDF handout have been placed on the blog page “Educational Materials.”

Cath Madden Trindle – 17 Dec 2012

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Filed under Genealogy