mycatsmomOctober 5, 2007

I am trying to save my husbands family pictures. His family moved here from Europe after WWII. I attempted to have copies of a passport photo copied at Wal-mart. They would not let me make copies because of copyright infringement. The picture is 60 years old and does not have any photographers name on it. Does anyone have any suggestions for this and other such photos?

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Try sone other place. Wal-Mart is only amatures anyway.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 8:00AM
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i'm with doris, try a photography store or an office store, any place that makes photocopies...also, depending on the number of photos you have, you might even consider getting yourself a scanner, or ask a friend with one to scan them for you

good luck! :o)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 2:30PM
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I rarely meet a photo lab tech at Wal-mart that knows their own copyright rules.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 4:51AM
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Take them somewhere that allows you to scan them yourself. In my area Target, Kinko, and Woodman's are three. Choose to have the scanned photos put on CD. Once scanned to CD's they are archived and available to share, print or post online. Never ask a store clerk about copyrights, just proceed as tho you know what you're doing;~)

Owning a scanner as Lianne suggests is a good idea, especially if you are into genealogy or family records. They are cheap, or look for a used one.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 8:23AM
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I agree also...Walmart is a joke. I went to a CopyCo type place once. since you have a computer it might be worth your time to buy a scanner. They are not all that expensive and you can copy and save all your photos.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 1:52PM
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The photo is copyrighted and for you to copy it is violating federal copyright law. That's why walmart would not do it. Just because you may find another place that may do it for you doesn't mean that you are not violating the copyright.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 7:46PM
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I'm certainly no contract attorney, but I don't believe there are any copyrights in effect after 60 years. I also believe the photographer has to be identified on the copyrighted photo for it to be legal. How can there be an assumed copyright with no id?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 8:10AM
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Contract law has nothing to do with federal copyright law. Copyright is in fact assumed and is automatic as a matter of law. You don't have to register anything. The moment you take a photo, the photographer has a copyright. Copyright is created the moment you take the photo. The photographer does not have to be identified on the photo. Copyright does exist for more than 60 years and in addition to federal law, the US has entered into agreements with foreign countries which extend copyright to photographers in foreign countries.

The person who took the passport to Walmart obviously wasn't the photographer who took the photo. That's all Walmart needed to ascertain to take the position that it was a violation of copyright.

I realize that most people like to ignore the issue of copyright but it is understandable why Walmart said what they did. Walmart was following the law.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 8:39PM
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Interesting. I was curious so I researched the law. It isn't simple or straight forward as one would expect from our legal system. First of all, in general, most government records are public domain. Are passport photos considered gov. records? (You can get copies of old passports from the Dept of State.) Secondly, since the passport photo was probably created as part of someone's employment, the work does not belong to the photographer, but to the person/persons who hired/employed the photographer. The photographer does not hold copyright on work done for hire or as part of an employment contract. Thirdly, before the copyright laws of the 1976, works had to be marked, registered, or otherwise identified as copyrighted. Works not in compliance when the laws changed, became public domain. The laws in effect in 1909 limited copyrights for 28 years. Since this 1909 law was in effect during WWII, the copyright would have expired before 1976 and the photos would now be public domain. And last, since these may be European photos, none, or all of the above may apply.

To further muddy the waters, the Professional Photographers Assoc tells callers that portraits done before the 1980's that are unmarked front or back, are the sole property of the holder to do with as they wish.

A signed release of liability is usually accepted in instances where the photograph is very old. The document assigns liability to the signer if legal issues should arise. I have found most professional photography studios will not hesitate to accept a liability waiver and reproduce any number of another photographer's studio portraits for a fee. Ethical?

Wal-mart's stands by the general rule, never take chances, we don't want a lawsuit. That is certainly their right.

FYI, the US Copyright Office says on its website:

Who Is the Author of a Work Made for Hire?
If a work is a work made for hire, the employer or other
person for whom the work was prepared...

Who Is the Owner of the Copyright
in a Work Made for Hire?
If a work is a work made for hire, the employer or other
person for whom the work was prepared is the initial owner
of the copyright unless there has been a written agreement to the contrary signed by both parties.

Sec. 103. This Act does not provide copyright protection for any work that goes into the public domain before January 1, 1978.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:13AM
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Passport photos do not belong to the govt. The govt did not take the photo. The copyright belongs to the photographer. The persons pays a photographer to take their photo and submits the photo to the govt.

Work for hire concept -- You are assuming the photographer was not self employed and did not own his own business. Can't assume that. Even if the photographer worked for a company, the copyright would belong to the company.

The copyright laws have been updated and amended a number of times and they cover older works of art. Photos from foreign countries are covered by copyright.

I don't see why anyone would accept a release of liability. It isn't worth the paper it is written on. They would still be sued and dragged through a lawsuit. And where is the evidence that the person giving the release is financially able to cover the expenses and judgment of a lawsuit.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 5:47PM
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Walmart has on two occasions refused to allow me to print my own photographs because they insisted they were professional portraits. Believe me, they were nice pictures but didn't look like the work of a portrait photographer.

If there's any doubt, I always go to CVS Pharmacy. You are certainly not hurting anyone by copying this picture, and I, for one, am not going to turn you in.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:21PM
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I do not condone breaking the law, by any means. For what it worth I took my passport photo with my Fujifilm FinePix A210 Zoom and printed myself.

I am not arguing about company's right to refuse business, I don't blame or fault them. I do small jobs in order to pay for my hobby (lenses, paper, printer, new camera etc). For a certain fee, I sign over printing privileges. However, my comment still stands-
"I rarely meet a photo lab tech at Wal-mart that knows their own copyright rules."

I was once told that I shouldn't take pictures that look good. "Rog - got it" I smiled and walked away. On more than on occasion they would let me print my pictures, I took upon myself to meet the manager and introduce myself. I brought my camerae in with pictures of my in-home 'pop up' studio. Now he lets me print there.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:01PM
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I have heard of people who take really good photos being denied at Walmart. Frustrating but at least its a compliment.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:05PM
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I've scanned some pretty old pictures of my parents and inlaws as children and had Walmart print them no problem. I uploaded them to their website and went in a few days later to pick them up. I even had copies of my baby picture that was taken of me in the hospital when I was born reprinted three times, one for each of my children.

As for my own pictures, if anyone were to question who owned them, my pictures are all copyrighted when I take the pictures. I have the information in my camera so that when you check the properties it says, ©(my name here).

I've also had prints done at Shoppers Drug Mart and Costco without question.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 12:12PM
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