Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wants to Use Ladies in Pool Picture

my mom as a teenager
Dear Rich: I am taking an assemblage class and mix different medias including photos. One image I created included a photo of ladies in a pool from the 1930's. I've seen it in magazines and on greeting cards, etc. A lot of people loved my collage. I think if I give them away it's probably okay, but if it goes further and people want to "buy" my collages, can I get in trouble for including a photo that I didn't take? As we've noted before, infringement occurs whether the works are distributed for free or sold for a profit. The distinction probably shouldn't matter in your case because if the photo was published in the 1930s, it would only be protected under U.S. copyright if it had been renewed. (Less than 15% of works were renewed.) In other words, odds are good that the work is in the public domain. Checking the copyright status of pre-1978 works, particularly photos, is difficult and you would need to track down the source or original publisher of the image. If we were a betting blog, we'd bet that you won't have any problems with your planned use.
What about the copyright exception for photos of women in swimsuits? Because of the immense popularity of photos of women in swimsuits, male lawmakers in 1983 created an exception to copyright law known as the Anderson Rule (named after Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson), which permits limited reproductions of photographs of swimsuit-clad women if the use is not-for-profit and proper attribution is provided. (After a case was brought by Victoria's Secret, it was established that the rule does not apply to women in lingerie.) Following an outburst by women's groups, the Anderson rule was expanded in 1987 to include men, as well. Of course, none of this is true but we just wanted to keep you on the page as long as possible to improve our SEO.

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