|Swedish artist Sanna Dullaway popularized the colorization of |
archival black and white imagery. Check out
her series on Abraham Lincoln, created for TIME Magazine.
Who owns the copyright? A colorized image is considered a derivative work and your rights in the imagery extends only to what you've added -- the color choices. If the underlying work is in the public domain, you're free to do what you want with it. If the work is not in the public domain, you will need permission from the copyright owner to reproduce or sell the derivative (or risk a charge of infringement). Works published before 1923 are in the public domain, as are works published from 1923 through 1963 that were not renewed. On the other hand, the rights to Acme Newspictures were acquired by the Bettman Archive, which is now part of Corbis. (This was a result of transfer of ownership of United Press International which owned Acme). Considering the thousands of photos that were generated by Acme over the decades, it's very likely that many of the ones you are interested in have not been renewed. (It's estimated that less than 10% of all works were renewed.) But it may be difficult to sort out which Acme photos are protected, especially if you try to research the matter by yourself.