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Are These Pictures In The Public Domain?


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#1 Alpha Beta Mu

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 09:47 PM

It might seem an odd question but, as the subject says, are the "Photographic Record Of Robert E. Howard" photographs public domain?

I've been adding bits to Wikipedia and it would help if I could use these pictures. Preferably, by putting them on Wikimedia Commons as public domain files. I've just expanded the Robert E. Howard biography and it could use a little more illustration. Otherwise there are quite a few blocks of uninterrupted text. It's not finished yet, but I could also use more pictures for the Robert E. Howard Portal on Wikipedia.

If not, there are a few more PD covers I can use and I could put some more quotes on the page in place of images to break up the text a little.

#2 Kylel Ironclaw

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 07:53 PM

Copyright/public domain law has always interested me. I was looking up the terms for photography copyrighting, and here's what I found:

"The subject of the photograph generally has nothing to do with the ownership of the copyright in the photograph. If the photographer is no longer living, the rights in the photograph are determined by the photographer's will or passed as personal property by the applicable laws of intestate successions."

So you would have to first find out who took those photos and when they were taken. Any work created before 1923 is public domain under US law. If taken between 1923 and 1964, you have to locate who owns the copyright on them and/or get their permission or their heir's permission, unless you would attempt to use the photographs under "fair use," but that's a sticky situation--usually using pictures to clarify or to comment on something.

#3 Alpha Beta Mu

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 10:54 PM

In all honesty, I have taken what an electronics teacher of mine once called the "lick-it-and-see test" (which easily solves questions such as "Is this circuit live?"). I am pretty sure these photographs are in the public domain but if I'm wrong they can be deleted from Wikimedia Commons in the normal way. In the mean time, I can use some of them on Wikipedia.

I did do some checking, although this is more difficult than with written works (which had to be renewed at the time and these renewal records are available online). I suspect the copyright of the studio photographs were transfered to Howard when they were taken, as a normal part of the business, and their copyrights have expired (although a better version is already on Commons anyway). A lot were printed in The Last Celt without a copyright notice, which would have put them into the public domain at the time of printing. More have been printed in other books, again with no copyrigh notice. This apparently doesn't automatically put them into the public domain anymore but it would seem to back up the public domain hypothesis. Last, they are already on the web here, at REHupa and probably elsewhere; I am at least doing no more damage to anyone's intellectual property than was already the case.

The first link above (Wikimedia Commons) will show a gallery of all the pictures and files on Commons relating to REH (not all uploaded by myself but I have tried to collect them in one place).