Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Heritage Photos and Copyright: a Rant and a Gift

Today is a follow-up to my last post when I wrote about my grandmother, Leona, who owned a photo studio in the 1930's. I have a rant, a caution, and a gift.

A Rant:

I find the copyright limitations frustrating and silly. My grandfather's face can't be copyrighted, but a picture of him can be. I understand the desire to make money from reprints, but today's copyright laws are far too broad.

A Caution:

As long as you are scrapbooking with paper, you have no copyright issues. When moving into digital or reproductions, the rules start coming into play. Companies may decline to print a page that they think might violate copyright. The last I saw, 95 years is the normal length of copyright, with extra time available under some conditions. If you want to print a page with a studio photo, read the terms on the website to understand their rules and your obligations.

A Gift:

I would be a hypocrite if I clung to the copyright restrictions for my grandmother's work. As one of her two heirs and the one who holds the negatives, I hereby relinquish all rights to her creations. If anyone with such a photo finds this site, you may use that photo with no limits.

The studio marks were stamped on the backs of the photos, or may also be hand-written. When she took over the studio, the name was Andreas Studio, Kingman, Arizona. As she took over all assets of the business, I have to assume the copyrights transferred to her. I'm not sure of the exact year, but I know she changed the name by 1933. She married in 1932 and the name became Stormer Studio, Kingman, Arizona.

Maybe you've got a photo taken in the Midwest with the Stormer Studio name and are puzzled. In 1933, Leona and Jack went to see the world's fair in Chicago and took the cameras. They visited family and friends in Michigan and along the way, including Enid, OK. On the return trip, the car caught fire. Jack was able to save the cameras, so they worked their way home, like travelling photographers of the 1800's, stopping and taking photos in towns along Route 66.

If you are researching an Andreas or Stormer photo in your collection, please take a moment to add a comment and let me know you found this page.

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