Today I spent five and a half hours sifting through photographs with my mother and grandparents, selecting content and collecting metadata for my digital collection. I think I ended up with about 25 photographs taken by my grandfather or a deceased family member. I couldn’t believe how many albums and boxes of photographs my grandparents have! I’m really developing an appreciation for the meticulousness of this kind of genealogical data collection.
After reading this blogpost and exchanging collection plans with my classmate Vernell, I’m finding my understanding of copyright to still be a little fuzzy in some areas. If a photograph is taken by a professional photographer, do the rights to that photograph pass into the public domain 70 years after the creator’s death, or do the rights to the photograph belong to the studio indefinitely? If the photography studio no longer exists, do the rights belong to the inheritors of the studio for longer than the 70-years-after-creator’s-death time period? I found professional wedding photos of my great grandparents, circa 1910, and while I’m certain that the photographer has been dead for 70 years or very close to it, I’m not certain if the rights to these photos still belong to a studio or not.
Another interesting case: I found a newspaper article published circa 1950, including a photo that belongs to my great grandmother. The photo is of my great grandmother and her classmates outside their school house, taken in 1900 or 1901, according to the newspaper article. I did not find the original photograph in my searching, just the newspaper copy. So I wonder, can I include this article and photo copy in my collection, since the original photograph would be in the public domain? Or would this be an infringement, since the newspaper article may still be under copyright? I will post these questions on our class website to see if any of my clever classmates can help me answer them.
I will have to set another date to collect audio recordings of family members’ oral history. I figured out how to use my new digital recording device (despite the fact it came with no instructions! Ha!), and I managed to install the Audacity audio file editing software on my computer, along with the required LAME code needed to convert files into mp3 format. As clueless as I feel about so many technological applications, I’m very proud of myself today!