EU copyright law question

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by Chris C, May 18, 2021.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I was wondering if anyone has been looking at whether EU member states have yet put into law the article that would prevent profiting off of out-of-copyright "works of art"? I'm hoping this might lead to an abandonment of charging for the use of WW2 era photos in books.
  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Chris, I only looked because of your post and I can't find any answer to your question.

    The Directive appears to be here:

    and the text is:

    "CHAPTER 4

    Works of visual art in the public domain

    Article 14

    Works of visual art in the public domain

    Member States shall provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author's own intellectual creation."

    ozzy16, Chris C, SDP and 1 other person like this.
  3. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Gosh! What on Earth does ...'own intellectual creation'.....mean? If someone modified, say, a photo by colourising it then that, in my mind, makes the grade....but what if it's as simple as a 'cut, crop, paste'....that still needs a degree of intellect....doesn't it? Looks like the Lawyers will need to 'test the waters' as usual. :)
  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Yes, that's the provision, but it has to be adapted into law in each country first. I am personally interested in photos in Dutch archives. I think their asking price is more than even IWM.

    We would get much more plentifully illustrated books if all these archival charges were waived.
  5. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Firstly, it’s a very long time since I studied EU, and briefly, IP law, and I have never practiced either, so don’t take any of this as gospel.

    Having quickly scanned this directive it seems to be concerned with addressing anomalies with respect to digital reproduction and doesn’t seem to affect the established principles of each Member State’s own laws. So the ‘life plus 70 years’ that I think applies in the Netherlands would not be affected.

    Also, I don’t think that the absence of copyright necessarily renders documents, images, etc. into the public domain if they are held in an archive – they don’t have to let you have a copy after all. You may find that such copies are subject to a licensing agreement and inevitable fee regardless of their copyright status.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Drat. :(
  7. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member


    Implementation of Art.14 of Directive 2019/790 appears to have been discussed by the temporary committee at the link below. The page has a contact tab which opens a form so you can ask if there has been legislation to comply with the Directive in English. The full report is in Dutch.

    Temporary committee on the Digital future presents final report

    Summary of the report Update required. Towards greater parliamentary control of digitisation


    The standing committee for Digital Affairs will be informed at an early stage about European Union proposals and the Dutch position in European discussions about them, enabling it to help shape and scrutinise the Netherlands’ input in the European Union."

    Chris C likes this.
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Take it from someone that intermittently lives drenched in fear & confusion over copyright hell:
    • Nobody really understands this shit that hasn't devoted themselves to it professionally for years.
    • It currently feels like it shifts all-the-bleedin'-time, without apparently really shifting.
    • We are in a state of massive flux regarding it & technology that is at least a decade from settling.
    • Once you think you grasp the basics of one nation's rules, said situation will be completely reversed/made massively more complex the second you cross a border.
    • Assume nothing.
    • No institution is your ally on this score.
    • Take the piss at your absolute personal risk.
    • Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
    Essentially, online, you expect a likely 'please remove X' after a mis-step. You remove, and that seems to usually end it.
    Published, physical text, however: Here be dragons.
    We make blunt decisions on it here sometimes, because it's a sketchy non-amateur field, and we are an (admittedly sketchy) amateur endeavour,

    Whose archives are they, anyway?
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  9. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    ...and this is why I snaffle up as many original wartime pics that I can when they come up on eBay... then they're in my archive and are labelled "authors collection"
    morrisc8, von Poop and Chris C like this.
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Yes, good idea! I was very lucky to stumble across a couple myself, albeit postwar.
  11. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    There is 'Copyright' and there is 'Reproduction Fees'. You can own a print where someone else has copyright and still demand reproduction fees for your version of it. .The good thing is no one takes a blind bit of notice of any of it. Despite periodic outbursts of indignation (usually when someone thinks their copyright is infringed) copying is endemic on the internet.
    I think most of the fuss is made by people who stumble across a previously unknown photo/fact and get carried away and think that that photo/fact belongs to them alone and expect a mention and credit every time it is used in the future.
  12. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    This is exactly it! Crown Copyright, for most everything produced during WWII, has now expired, and for quite some time too. What people are being charged for (by various Museums etc.) is mostly reproduction fees. In some cases they also demand a 'copyright supplement' under the vague understanding that someone with copyright might pop up, sometime in the future, and demand back fees (more EU rollox). I've even seen this applied to "Crown Copyright, expired" stuff, which has to be illegal.

    I don't mind a reasonable reproduction fee but some of the fee's charged are eye-watering and, as others have pointed out, these prices really do inhibit one's ability to properly illustrate a book or piece of writing. It is especially egregious since all of these records where paid for by the taxes of our fathers and uncles and, in many cases, they were also paid for in blood. Furthermore, given that the UK did not pay off the final instalments of our war debts to the USA until fairly recently, then everyone reading this has also paid for these records through taxes paid in our own lifetimes. This is what makes the egregious prices charged by IWM so intolerable, the fact that they are ours already and that we have already paid for them many times over. The other side of the coin is that the higher the reproduction fee the fewer they sell. If they dropped the prices they'd sell a lot more and more often too. Which is what actually happens in a proper capitalist economy. What the museums, and the photo-agencies, are doing is nothing short of cartel style price-fixing, especially when it comes to content produced by the Crown, using our taxes, and which were given to many of these Press Agencies, and Museums, gratis.
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  13. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Interestingly enough, I've been trying to obtain a couple of scans of a two-part article published across the January and February issues of a 1946 technical journal. The British Library want nearly £100 just to provide copies of both parts of this article. Meanwhile the Bod, Oxford Uni's Library, will allow me to renew my readers ticket for free and will also provide scans to me for free. Their website contains a quick summary of Current Copyright Law (which I have snipped and pasted here for your information). In terms of Crown Copyright, note the distinction between created and published!

    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Appreciate your posting these.

    I would say, however, that some of these restrictions have already been made largely obsolete by modern computing and cloud storage.

    Computers routinely duplicate files for purposes of backup. My own research folder maintains an identical duplicate of itself online so that I can access it anywhere with any device.

    This is swiftly becoming the norm, and many people have no clear conception of what their phone or computer is doing with the data stored on them!
  15. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Attached flowchart and Crown Copyright definition are from the National Archives. "Their rules" seem to differ considerably from "those of the Bod" (post #13)... :wacko:

    Attached Files:

  16. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    From the UK perspective, I think legally it seems quite clear that once Crown Copyright expires then that is it. Someone can charge for reproduction fees, but I don't see by what mechanism they can legally enforce the receipt of those fees, i.e. what law would they quote in order to make you pay up if you had already used one of "their" photos in a book?

    This is the thing I notice with all reproduction/licensing agreements - there is no specified law stated to back them up, so it just seems to operate on what is basically intimidation.
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  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Why can't any 'published' crown copyright image or media can be freely reused once it's out there? I presume a publisher or author can't assign their copyright to an expired-crown-copyright image even if they've stumped up to extricate it from the clutches of IWM. On what legal basis could IWM seek redress?
  18. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    IWM would have to prove the image used came from their archives, hence the watermark on IWM scans. They may have other ways to do that beyond the simple watermark. Also, if the original photograph was never distributed/published and they hold the only copy they can then claim property rights over the image. Basically put, you need to make sure that you are on firm ground and you need to remember the onus is on you to prove you got the image legitimately. The question you need to ask is, "Can I actually afford the cost of defending myself if I get sued"?
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  19. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    From what I recall, (and I'm going back a few years) the law allows for at least 2 x backups which, again, only you have access to. Where you have an extended backup system based on daily, weekly, four weekly, monthly, years etc then this is classed as one backup, even though multiple copies of the 'data' in question are distributed through the various tapes/discs etc. This is because the backup system, and the redundancy it is trying to achieve, is considered a single backup for the purposes of the law courts.
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  20. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I would venture to suggest that the IWM has very little in the way of official Second World War images that weren't made available by The Ministry of Information at the time....eBay regularly has sellers in the UK and abroad with 'period' copies of sometimes the most obscure images that the IWM also hold and they are clearly coming from newspaper and agency archives...the whole point is that they were taken for propaganda purposes. Stuff that didn't show British forces in a good light probably never made it out of the dark room.

    There is a world of difference though between slapping a photo up on WW2talk, thinking "Adam knows how it is,he'll be careful not to drop the soap" and publishing with one's own name using images of questionable origin.
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