Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The bigger picture

Click on the photos to expand them and then click on the expanded photo to expand it again.

There has been a much larger than usual number of old Ramsgate pictures published to the internet in the last couple of weeks, many new ones and many I have seen before. has been closed down due to plagiarism, it says and I suppose the question of who owns historic pictures of Ramsgate always raises its head at times like this.

On the whole the business of copyright is fairly complicated but boils down to 70 years after the person who produced the work died. With Ramsgate material I have tracked down the most obvious copyright holders like Siminson’s family and got permission to publish their work.

In the case where the person who produced the work is unknown then it’s 70 years after the work was produced. In many cases where organisations think they own copyright, like Kent Libraries or local papers I have asked them too.

In may cases newspapers will have made an agreement with their photographers, which makes them copyright holders for a period of time.

On the whole with photos where no one knows who took them then the ones taken before 1948 are probably copyright expired.

Buying a photo doesn’t give you any right to the copyright although there are a lot of people who would like to think that it does.

Now with the aerial photos of Ramsgate, I think these all date from the 1920s or 1930s and I am fairly certain that the copyright has expired, what bugs me a bit is people copying them and putting them online in versions that are so small that they aren’t much use.

Further to this there is the business of actually making anything out of material which with local history I don’t think anyone does.

On the whole though I would say that it is worth an element of risk to preserve our history.

Another element here is the pictures where I own the copyright

Unusual aspects of local history like the slow demise of the flagpole 

Or Concord at Manston 

Or today's shot out to sea, would I recognise it as one of mine? 

One thing that I think is not a good idea is to change or mark in some way a picture where you are not sure you own the copyright. Buying a few old local pictures and putting them on the internet is one thing, but marking them say with Michael's Bookshop, well that would be asking for an expensive legal action. As I think would be cropping off the original writing. 

A busy day at work in the bookshop today. Lots of movement in visiting books, here are the pictures of the ones on the way to the shelves

There is a further complication with the internet and that is that the pictures on a webpage are not actually there, so it is only the html code telling your browser to show any picture that is anywhere on the internet. So I could have put a picture that I own the copyright to on my own website e.g.

And then you could tell your website to show that image address… too difficult to even contemplate going there .

I think in many cases it’s the law like the Hilton Hotel is open to anyone, theoretically were you to use one of the pictures I had taken I could get my solicitor to sort it out. I know he charges a very reasonable £195 per hour plus VAT, but you know how it is. 

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