The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 36, September 3, 2006, Article 23


Kerry Rodgers writes: "Bob Knepper asks about using other people's
images.  No doubt others will write in on this topic.  Images, be
they photos or drawings and like the words of others are covered by
international copyright. They are the intellectual property of the
person who brought them into being.

Copyright laws vary from country to country but essentially they all
boil down to the use of the creative effort of others without their
permission is theft. This includes those appearing on the World Wide
Web. If Bob has a look at 99% of web pages he will find the copyright
holder's name appears on at least the home page along with the
international copyright symbol. It also occurs in auction catalogs
and in the front of books and magazines.  It is there for a damn
good reason: to protect the copyright holder.

I regularly use images of others in my writing but I always ask first.
Not only does that clear me legally but often the image owner sends me
a much better image than that in the auction catalog or on the web.
In all cases I must acknowledge the person who holds the copyright.

Editors and publishers, such as those at f+w, refuse to use any image
unless the person supplying them can assure the editor that it is
unencumbered by copyright.  They do not want any legal grief. Any
author who puts a publishing house in court can expect to be blacklisted
for ever and a day.

Of course, an image of a new coin is a bit of a hassle. Not only is
the image covered by copyright, but the design of the coin itself
is copyrighted.  So two releases could be required: that of the
photographer and that of the artist.  Of course, the Mint involved
may have paid for both to be done and hence be the sole copyright

Eventually the copyright on items will lapse.  In most, but not all
countries, the period involved is defined as two generations from
the death of the creator of the property.  A legal generation used
to be 25 years so two generations was 50 years.  In the EU a
generation was redefined a few years back.  I think it is now 30
years.  Some items that had emerged from copyright were popped back
in for another ten years.

And even when an item has come out of copyright, like a medieval
taler with a cute wildman, if an auction catalog photographs it,
then the new image is subject to copyright.

Good luck Bob - just avoid earning the reputation enjoyed by one
author who produced a self-published history of money a few years
back stealing images hither and yon.  Curiously, the book bears
the author's copyright in its front.

PS:  I heard recently of one gentleman who goes through numismatic
magazines looking for what he considers to be copyright breaches.
He then writes to the editor complaining.  His copyright is never
involved - it is just that he has too much time on his hands and
his life is not as short as mine."

[Bob has a specific project in mind, a book he's compiling on
Wildman Talers.  One reader offered to provide Bob with images
of high-grade specimens for the project.   Obtaining permissions
to use images is always a chore, but this offer may help Bob
eliminate some of the work that would otherwise be required to
ensure clear use of others' images.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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