What do I do about school photos which have a copyright, but the photography studio is no longer in existence?

+7 votes
I have looked, but have no clue how to find the copyright holder.  These are photos that are over sixty years old.
in Photos by Cindy Curry G2G5 (5.2k points)
Are they photos that were in yearbooks?  Most yearbooks are considered public domain and are shared widely and liberally on the internet.  If they are like these I (personally) wouldn't have an issue sharing them and giving attribution to the originator.
No, it's an 8 x10 of my mother in high school.
Personally, I would have no issue posting it.  It is probably online already as an Ancestry.com yearbook scan and if not, the chance that the photographer is exercising (or can excercise) rights to the photo are about .00001%  

Just be sure to attribute the photographer or studio if it is stamped on the phone.  Maybe your grandpa took the pic ;-)
Cindy, you're saying it's a photo of your own mother, handed down to you, that you want to post on a genealogy web site without using it in any way for personal gain or profit?  I know our legal scholars here will cringe at this comment (and probably want to excommunicate me), but I say go for it.  I think the chance of anyone objecting to your use of the photo in that way is really minuscule.  If anyone ever did raise a valid objection, you could remove the photo, apologize profusely, and beg forgiveness, and the risk of incurring any punishment would be less than minuscule.  Disclaimer: just the personal opinion of a crotchety old member with no legal credentials whatsoever.

is what is wrong with the copyright laws.  

When you hire a photographer to shoot your wedding the photos should be owned by you, not the photographer.  In my case they were as I included it in the contract.  Unfortunately, not all do.  So folks, any time you have a photographer shoot pics of you, your family, your event, just be sure that it says you're the owner and then your grandkids won't have to ponder the queston in 80 years.
Exactly my thoughts, Dennis.

2 Answers

+1 vote
Did another photography studio buy out or take over the original business - if so they may hold the copyright.  If the photographer closed his business and he's still alive he would still hold the copyright and if he's not alive the rights to his photographs may have passed to his heirs.
by Carol Wilder G2G6 Mach 5 (50.5k points)
+3 votes
I think in any copyright situation, besides determining whether the work is still covered by a copyright, you should consider both the difficulty of getting the copyright holder's consent and the likelihood that you might have to pay damages to the copyright holder if you do what you intend to do with the work. In the case of your posting a high school photo of your mother taken by a defunct photography studio on wikitree, I would say that the difficulty of getting the copyright holder's consent is high and the likelihood anyone is going to sue you over it is zero.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (220k points)

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