• Disclaimer: Legal advice is not binding, consulting an attorney is always recommended.

legal Usage of images of unknown photographers

Hi,
I'm making a documentary about an Italian woman of 93 who was Olympic champion on fencing in 1952, and many other international awards. The film has been commissioned by her and her family. She has given me lots of beautiful images of the 50's and 60's, but she has no idea of who the photographer was and images lack signature or any useful reference.
Is there a way to use those images, calling for the authors (or their heirs) to contact us, so we can ask for the copyright? Without those images the film cannot be published.

Another issue is that the Olympic Committee has given us the 1952 footage, but has said that it cannot be published. Is there any way to claim her rights to include that footage in her film?

Many thanks!

Cristina
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
Ask the family to put in writing that they own the rights to the photographs and give you the rights to use them. Legal wording and all.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
You could say something like the photographs were provided by the family or estate or whatever. If they are willing to provide this document then they are confident they own the rights; family took pics, pro took pics but delivered negatives and they own rights to photos...

The roadblock may come if they say they don't own the rights. But step 1 should be asking for this document as if it were standard practice and not quiz them on ownership.
 
Great, that's really useful!

And about the Olympic Committee. Here is what they wrote me:

We can provide Mrs. Irene Camber with a DVD of her performance, for private use only.
Please find below the conditions of use:
- Non-commercial purposes only (NO association with 3rd parties, or 3rd parties products/services); limited to the following:
- to factually present their participation at the Games in their official website only (no social media platforms).
- for educational purposes to promote Olympism and its values
- Other uses are approved on case by case
- Copyright attribution [© Year – International Olympic Committee – All rights reserved]
- Requestor is responsible for any required clearance/consent [currently not applicable as limited to still images featuring the Olympian]

What do you think? Do we have possibilities of getting or buying permission?

thanks again!
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
They are basically saying yes we'll get you (the Olympian) a copy of your performance for private use, personal website use, or educational purposes. All other uses, contact us. So that's what you need to do. :)
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
You definitely want a lawyer to move forward. There's more to clearing a photo than who owns it. For example, if others are in the pics. Or if she is in front of a McDonald's. Or the Olympic symbol is shown. Guess what. It all needs to be cleared.
 
yes there is a lot of other people in the pics, but they are people from the fencing world of the 50's and 60's, who were used to appear in the newspapers. Most of these pics have appeared in the press. Most of these people are not living anymore. And in any case she is very well known, respected, admired: she's the first Italian woman to get an Olympic gold medal. Would anyone claim rights for their deceased relatives appearing 70 yrs ago in a picture in a public event?
No symbols appear.
Yes, the family has their lawyer who can deal with this.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
Since it's a documentary you have a little more freedom with that stuff with fair use. But again, actual legal advice is best. We can only steer you or offer amateur advice.
 
FYI, the copyright rules for photographs are not the same as for films. The copyright on a film of that vintage would have a lifespan of 28 years. The copyright on a film registered in 1969 would have expired in 1997, and the copyright would have to be renewed on or before 1997. If it was NOT renewed before the end of 1997 (by the Olympic committee), it would now be in Public Domain, regardless of who has film the negative. Have your lawyer check the copyright status of the film.
 

jax_rox

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
ok, great, so we'll make a formal request, perhaps sending the film.
I’m not sure if this is your intention, but my reading was you would use the footage without permission, then send the film in and hope they grant permission to use it.

Don’t use the footage without permission. Make the request up-front and see what the outcome is. If you can’t use it, you’re going to have to figure something else out anyway.

Get a lawyer on board.
 

AidenJames

Business Member
indieBIZ
This is a perfect example of why copyright law needs to be changed. There is absolutely ZERO reason why a copyright lasts for more than 20 years. The point of a copyright is to give an exclusive license for a "limited time" (preciously how it's worded in the US Constitution - limited meaning brief), so the creator can recoup their initial costs of creating the work, before others can exploit the same work. 120 years for corporations and lifetime + 70 for individuals is not limited nor brief. But ya know, we do what corporations want now... so basically large corporate conglomerates get their way (Disney in the case of changing copyright law) and the individual gets screwed over. This is also the core issue of the insane crap going on, on YouTube (referring to the ridiculous copyright strikes and claims on stuff that is clearly fair use, like criticism and review videos).
 
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I’m not sure if this is your intention, but my reading was you would use the footage without permission, then send the film in and hope they grant permission to use it.

Don’t use the footage without permission. Make the request up-front and see what the outcome is. If you can’t use it, you’re going to have to figure something else out anyway.

Get a lawyer on board.
Thanks. It's not my intention, of course.
 
FYI, the copyright rules for photographs are not the same as for films. The copyright on a film of that vintage would have a lifespan of 28 years. The copyright on a film registered in 1969 would have expired in 1997, and the copyright would have to be renewed on or before 1997. If it was NOT renewed before the end of 1997 (by the Olympic committee), it would now be in Public Domain, regardless of who has film the negative. Have your lawyer check the copyright status of the film.
Many thanks, that's useful.
 
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