Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wants to Use NYT Rotogravures

Library of Congress WWI Rotogravure Collection
Dear Rich: Could you tell me the copyright laws regarding the duplication of imagery from the Rotogravure pictorial section of the New York Times and other U.S. Papers dating from the 1910's to the 1940's. There is vast diversity of imagery from advertisements to images of the New York skyline, Gandhi and Presidents to day to day people. Is the paper covered by copyright? Can I retail the original images individually? Can I duplicate the images to retail. Is there a restriction on copying advertisements. Are there restrictions using the New York Times fonts? You can safely use rotogravures published before 1923 (public domain) and you may be able to use rotogravures published after 1923 (and before 1964) if the issues comprising the rotogravures weren't renewed (a statistical probability, considering that only 15% of works were renewed). You can most likely use pre-1940s advertisements as it is unlikely the companies that owned those ad copyrights will object, assuming the ads ever had copyright protection. (The ads wouldn't be protected under the NYT's copyright; they would only be protected if they had a separate copyright notice.) It's possible, but unlikely that you will risk a trademark claim for reproducing an old ad. So summing up, you can use a work if it is in the public domain (the rules are explained in this timeline) or if your use qualifies for a copyright exception -- such as fair use or under the first sale doctrine (for example, you cut up New York Times and sell it as wallpaper).  As for the New York Times font (Old English aka Blackletter), it's not subject to copyright protection but we would recommend against using the New York Times trademark, or the font, in conjunction with the promotion of your products. You want to avoid creating the impression that your products are endorsed by or associated with the New York Times.