Photograph Machines - family pictures

downsouthDecember 15, 2001

I took 3 of my son's pictures to Wal-mart to copy for my DIL to give her for Christmas. She has always wanted these pictures and I don't want to give up the originals. They are in black & white (brownish actually), all 8x10, and were made at a photography place when he was small. I showed them to the young girl and asked her if she could help me with the machine, as I had never used one before. She said I couldn't copy these pictures as they were originals and were copyright. They are 33 years old but she said they had to be older than that before I could copy them. Someone suggested I go back late at night and try again, or even try a machine at another store. Would it be very expensive to just take them to a local photography store and get copies? Was this young girl right?


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You could always scan them yourself and order copies online. I would try another store or just the same store with somebody else working. Or, just take your time figuring out the machine and don't ask for help.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2001 at 11:34AM
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That store clerk is saddly misinformed.

I have had pictures younger then that copied at Photo studios that cater to professionals. They even made negatives of old family pictures for me.

Most professionals keep negatives for five years in storage. After five years most professionals distroy the negastives to recoup the gold from them. After five years you can copy any professional portraits. Art shots are different but ordinary wedding, child portraits etc no big deal.

I would just go to kinkos, Kmart, Target or where ever else they have one of those machines. She was being difficult because she didn't want to help you.

By the way. Here are a few steps.

Lay the picture on the glass top towards the top of the glass.

Touch the screen and follow the directions the screen gives you.

After you have the picture choices all done ask the sales clerk for the pass word and type it in. Then start the process all over again until you have all your pictures copied and in have both your copies and oringinals.

Make sure you call the store and inform them about their rude salesclerk and how misinformed she is.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2001 at 12:24PM
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I was told the same thing when I tried to copy our wedding pictures at walgreens. I did take them to a small photography shop and they did it for me without a question. It was more expensive than Walgreens, but not unreasonable.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2001 at 7:53PM
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If you are unhappy with the quality of the reprints made from the photo machine, I'd strongly recommend having reprints made at your local photo shop. my father carried some small sepia toned photos of my mother in his wallet my entire life, and I wanted to reproduce them for my sisters. The photo place had to make new negatives of them (I belive they charged $15/photo, but we're in the bay area where everything is more expensive..) :)

anyway, once the negatives were made, we were able to have the reprints in really high quality, on nice paper, and have the clerks reprint the photos for $.50 if the color wasn't exactly right. Those do it yourself machines can't really offer any of that.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 12:10AM
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Actually, from a strictly legal standpoint, the clerk is right. The copyright doesn't vanish just because the negatives are destroyed, nor does it vanish because the business does--there's usually some legal entity that retains the right. (I might be wrong about that--if a corporation goes out of business, its nonphysical assets might dissipate.)

However, the likelihood of anyone ENFORCING their legal right to control the copying of 33-year-old photos is phenomenally low. And what they'd spend on legal fees would be light years more than a jury would award them.

(You might check to see whether the business that created the images, and therefore owns the copyright, is still around. If so, the safest bet would be to ask them to make a photographic reproduction. If not, the fact that you could prove they didn't exist, or that you'd at least checked, might make the next person you try more willing to ignore the legalities)

You might try again with some other shop--I'd try a photo shop. Since they'd be violating the same copyright laws that protect their right to make money, they'll be good at assessing whether there's any real risk.

The fact that the photo studio's name is on the photos might make this task more difficult.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 1:13PM
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From the following website:

Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The current copyright law has extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, making these works eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years.

So unless the photographer got a copyright extention on the photograph during the year that it turned 28 years old, you should be able to get a copy made.

Another good website that further explain copyrights:

Here is a link that might be useful: Kodak

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 3:15PM
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The copyright thing is everywhere and some places enforce it more than others. Just recently I got my son's school pictures back....when I was sending out Christmas cards and framing some, I realized I didn't buy a big enough package. To reorder fromthe studio would have been costly and taken too long. I took a copy to CVS where they have a Kodak Picture Maker. You do it all yourself (pick the sheets (wallets, etc.) and even lighten, darken or crop pictures. At the very end it asked for a code and the store clerk had to come over and type it in so it would print. She didn't even see my picture. Yes it had a copyright warning on the machine, but nobody cared. I thought the pictures I got were even BETTER than the studio' they were have a buy one get one free special, so I got 8 wallets and a 8 X 10 for $6.99!! A lot better than the $40 something I would have paid to reorder. I don't feel guilty at all cuz once I bought the pricey package from the studio..I considered those MY pics to do with what I please. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2001 at 8:54PM
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Rebecca, thanks for the details! I had the "28" in my head, but had it as "anything before 1928."

I think it's highly unlikely that any photographer would bother renewing copyright on his portraits. More work that it would possibly be worth. He might for one or two pieces of work (the boy-next-door who grew up to be famous or infamous, perhaps), but you ought to be OK.

And there's no such thing as "5 years" as mentioned earlier.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2001 at 1:10PM
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I've been told the same thing at Kinko's. When it's pictures taken from you own camera, that's no problem. But the one I had even had "copyright" printed all over the back of the photo paper, as most professional photos do. And I wasn't asking them to actually print the picture, I wanted them scanned and put on CD. They wouldn't do that either.

Maybe if you just keep trying someplace else isn't as strict with the copyright laws. I'd think national chains would be more likely to enforce these things than mom-n-pop photo places. I know my mom has old photos copied doing her geneology stuff, and some of those had to have been copyrighted. I'm sure she took them to photographers, not WalMart, they were fragile.
That's why I like my scanner.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2001 at 1:33PM
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Thanks everyone for your very informative and knowledgeable replies. Do these "do it yourself" machines take dollar bills or do you pay the clerk? I am going back to this same store and try this again, since it's only two miles from my house. I don't understand this "copyright" thing. Who would want my son's pictures besides me or my DIL? If I can't copy them, I will then go to a photography shop.

The photography place that took these pictures went out of business years ago. I have a scanner, but don't have good enough printer to print photos. I tried this and they just don't look very good.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2001 at 10:13PM
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If you have a good scanner and a nice photo program the next step without ever leaving the house is

I did this and they are a great service.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2001 at 9:47AM
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The photographer is the artist, just like a painting or a book. The photograph is his/her artwork, regardless of the subject, be it the Eiffel Tower or your child. His rights to his artwork are protected by the copyright.

On such on old photograph, when the photographer is out of business, it can seem irrelevent. But the law has to remain consistent. If it was recent photograph and you only paid the photographer for one photo, then could go anywhere to make hundreds of copies of it, the photographer lost money on his work and someone else made money on it. See the problem? It's easy to see both sides, afterall, it's your child and your photograph, sort of. But you weren't the artist/photographer.

Just like a lot of laws, what is meant to protect people's rights can get in the way at times. But it has to be consistent.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2001 at 10:17AM
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Thank You Stephanie :o) Copyright laws are the only way artists have to protect themselves and their work (and it IS work taking a portrait of someone). If I spend an hour working on just the right lighting, pose, background and expression, and spend a fortune on equipment, rent, backgrounds, and props, then I deserve the money those portraits are worth. Kinkos does not deserve that money, no matter how cheap they are. What if I take a picture of a baby, and the parents like that picture so much they enter it in a photo contest? Without copyright, I don't get any credit for that photo. What if competing photographer likes a portrait I did so much that he decides to use it in one of his advertisements? With out copyright, I have no protection. What if parents decide that they like the photograph I worked so hard on, but they don't want to spend the money I charge for it? With out copyright, they can take it to Kinkos and pay them for the work that I did. I get nothing for my hard work. Not only that, but then my work is associated with the crappy looking copies those parents had made. ANY photograph I take, is MINE. Doesn't matter what the subject is. I allow people to buy copies of that photo. It may not seem like a big deal when you don't want to shell out the money that the photographer deserves, but it is a big deal. You would never tell your children that it is ok to steal something from a store because that store is charging too much for it. So why is it ok to steal an artists work (or to allow a copy shop to steal my work)?


    Bookmark   December 19, 2001 at 11:27PM
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The point is also not just that Kinko's made money on the photographer's work--it's that you deprived the photographer of his right to make money from his labor.

That fact that it's your child doesn't change the fact that the artistic eye and labor (and equipment) that went into making that image are the photographer's stock in trade.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2001 at 11:24AM
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