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Joe Sermarini
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« on: October 13, 2007, 09:10:38 am »

It appears there is no copyright protection on ancient coin photos...

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Summation of the article:

If a photograph is taken of a 2,000 year old coin, the coin itself is not subject to copyright protection and, therefore, the coin is in the public domain. The same principal would apply to a painting. Most people would agree with this part. The next element is the physical reproduction of an image of the coin. Again, we are dealing only with a coin in the public domain. Most legal experts have long agreed that a photocopy or a scan would not be subject to copyright as it is not considered original or creative. Therefore, the first pillar that private property or copyright exists by the sheer act of creating an image is not true.The second pillar that is cited as a foundation for copyright of a coin photograph is that it can require some technical skill, such as proper lighting, resolution, and exposure, and consequently must be original and creative and worthy of copyright protection. However, when closely examined, this argument falls apart. The purpose of taking the photograph is to give a faithful rendering of the actual coin, not to create a work of art. The photographer is trying to give the potential buyer or reader a true sense of what the coin would look like if they had the coin in their own hands. Such a reproduction is not considered original or creative for copyright purposes in the USA. If a photographer created a montage of coin photographs or altered the image from what can be seen on the actual coin itself then a case could be argued that an original work was created.
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 09:30:47 am »

I would take that with a grain of salt. It may be true for some coin photos (and probably for all coin scans), but almost certainly not for all of them. The fact is that copyright law does not include or exclude any particular subject matter - it's about creativity and degree of copying, and is a very gray area (which is why there are lawyers that specialize in it).

Here's an extract from the Judge's summary in the case cited by that article:

“There is little doubt that many photographs, probably the overwhelming majority, reflect at least the modest amount of originality required for copyright protection. “Elements of originality . . . may include posing the subjects, lighting, angle, selection of film and camera, evoking the desired expression, and almost any other variant involved.” n39 [*197] But "slavish copying," although doubtless requiring technical skill and effort, does not qualify.

I'm sure that anyone who takes photo's manually (vs one of the automated coin photo systems which are in essence designed to "slavishly copy", and certainly put no creativity into it) would agree that lighting (sources, positions, diffusion), angle (modelling, reflection), selection of film (or it's ditigal equivalents - "ISO", etc) and camera play just as large a part in coin photography as any other kind. As I've also noted elsewhere the source material may also be copyright despite being over 2000 years old - the patina and cleaning effort (e.g. artistically exposed sand patina) are in most cases recent, and these are very much part of what distinguishes one coin from another and create the photographic possibilities.

Any decent copyright lawyer could have a field day educating the judge and maybe a jury about the differences between individual ancient coins (and their recent clothes) and the differences between multiple photos of the exact same coin when one varies all those factors that judge Kaplan noted are a factor of copyrightable creativity.

Ben
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 10:24:01 am »

Interesting as well that this is based on US law and that UK law is different. What would be the case if I used US museum images on my UK based website. Would the US museum have a case under UK law?

I dread to think about the European aspect!

Lee
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 11:05:04 am »

Nice article which clarify the legal issue.
To my mind, the absence of the copiright on photos of coins
is consistent with the fundamental ideas of the American law.

For me Ben's arguments are rather weak.
If we will follow them systematically, we immediately arrive to a situation that
ANY PHOTO, ANY ITS MODIFICATION by Photoshop or other photo editor
must be a subject of copyright. The legislator was not willing this. 
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2007, 01:09:06 pm »

I think the article makes it clear this has already been to court and a decision was made.  Could another court come to another conclusion?  Certainly, but a precedent has been set.   I don't think this was a small case that was carelessly considered. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2007, 01:35:50 pm »

I think the article makes it clear this has already been to court and a decision was made.  Could another court come to another conclusion?  Certainly, but a precedent has been set.   I don't think this was a small case that was carelessly considered. 

Most of that article isn't discussing a case related to coin photos! It's discussing the Bridgeman Art Library case where a UK(!) museum was asking a US court to have UK copyright protection for photos of public domain paintings.

The connection of that article to photos of coins is only via the author's assertion that the Bridgeman case "mostly likely" was used as the basis of legal advice he claims was given to a publisher who wanted to use a coin dealer's pictures without permission. What the specifics of that case where, and whether it actually went to court (and if so what the outcome was) are not discussed.

Ben
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2007, 01:55:14 am »

When I scan a coin, I also photoshop it to improve the contrast, unless I'm half asleep or something and forget. I'm no lawyer, but this may introduce the necessary element of creativity. If cases regarding coin pics ever come to court, I suspect that we'll be getting into a minefield.
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2007, 08:03:14 am »

I believe only accurate photographic reproductions of two-dimensional pieces of art (e.g. paintings) are not subject to copyright laws.  It is my understanding that coins would be subject to copyright, at least in the U.S.

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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2007, 08:32:44 am »

When I scan a coin, I also photoshop it to improve the contrast, unless I'm half asleep or something and forget. I'm no lawyer, but this may introduce the necessary element of creativity.

Creation is easy?  Just to adjust contast, color, light?  By the way, you adjust to your proper monitor...
Robert,  your comment shows how one can come to an impass with an arbitrary
definition of creative work. You do creat nothing new by moving the source of the light
on your stand a bit left or right or  adding a bit more contrast in Photoshop.
By the way, if one accept that  photo of coins is a creative work,  then a coin photographer
is an artist and this might have some legal consequences... 

In contrast to these technical variations, I am not so sure that ancient coins are in public
domain...
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2007, 10:54:55 am »

I believe only accurate photographic reproductions of two-dimensional pieces of art (e.g. paintings) are not subject to copyright laws. 

NJM

Though - just to be Devils Advocate - some artists will slap on the paint, to create a texture, 4 or 5 times greater than the thickness of a coin, so you can see how lawyers would have great earning potential debating the finer points of which is the more two dimensional.... Cool

Malcolm
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 11:01:02 am »

Very true!
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2007, 05:42:42 am »

Creation is easy?  Just to adjust contast, color, light?  By the way, you adjust to your proper monitor...
Robert,  your comment shows how one can come to an impass with an arbitrary
definition of creative work. You do creat nothing new by moving the source of the light
on your stand a bit left or right or  adding a bit more contrast in Photoshop.
By the way, if one accept that  photo of coins is a creative work,  then a coin photographer
is an artist and this might have some legal consequences... 

I'm not comparing simple photo manipulation to true art, but it could be considered 'creative' in a legal sense. But let the lawyers argue over that.
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2007, 07:40:39 am »

May I draw your attention to this book, "Metal Mirror," which consists of photographs of coins. 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Metal-Mirror-Coin-Photographs-Stephen/dp/0953692108/ref=sr_1_8/202-2661462-3533467?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192541904&sr=8-8

 Who would like to bet that there is no copyright in these photos?
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2007, 03:28:16 pm »

While I am no copyright lawyer, I suggest that there is a legal distinction between publsihed photos, like Max Hirmer's, and those not published.  Now, of course, the question is often what constitutes publication.  If Smith or Jones makes a website using coins photographed by him and hires someone to write a text for them, surely they are published.  But what about websites using original photos?  What about auction catalogues, whether on line or in hard copy?  Is it a question of saying "all rights reserved" (the new owner of the coin may wish to publish it?) or of saying "free use for all non-commercial purposes" (meaning, if you want to profit from a coffee table book or a calendar of beautiful coin pictures, take your own photos).  I don't know, do you?
Pat L.
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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2007, 03:59:57 pm »

While I am no copyright lawyer, I suggest that there is a legal distinction between publsihed photos, like Max Hirmer's, and those not published.  Now, of course, the question is often what constitutes publication.  If Smith or Jones makes a website using coins photographed by him and hires someone to write a text for them, surely they are published.  But what about websites using original photos?  What about auction catalogues, whether on line or in hard copy?  Is it a question of saying "all rights reserved" (the new owner of the coin may wish to publish it?) or of saying "free use for all non-commercial purposes" (meaning, if you want to profit from a coffee table book or a calendar of beautiful coin pictures, take your own photos).  I don't know, do you?
Pat L.

Maybe some answers are here (pertaining to US copyright): https://www.cu.edu/~irm/stds/copyright/quicksum.html

James
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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2007, 04:17:53 pm »

While I am no copyright lawyer, I suggest that there is a legal distinction between publsihed photos, like Max Hirmer's, and those not published.  Now, of course, the question is often what constitutes publication.  If Smith or Jones makes a website using coins photographed by him and hires someone to write a text for them, surely they are published.  But what about websites using original photos?  What about auction catalogues, whether on line or in hard copy?  Is it a question of saying "all rights reserved" (the new owner of the coin may wish to publish it?) or of saying "free use for all non-commercial purposes" (meaning, if you want to profit from a coffee table book or a calendar of beautiful coin pictures, take your own photos).  I don't know, do you?
Pat L.

Pat - As has been pointed out, copyright law is different in different countries.  In Great Britain, a work does not have to be published for copyright to exist - its creation is enough. Copyright exists for "original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works," and "artistic work" is defined as "a graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, irrespective of artistic quality." (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended).  It seems likely that this includes all coin photos.  Here are some handy links to a summary of the provisions: http://copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law
And the Act, as amended.
http://www.jenkins-ip.com/patlaw/cdpa1.htm

Bill
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2007, 06:24:05 pm »

copyright law is different in different countries.  In Great Britain, a work does not have to be published for copyright to exist

The same is true in the US - it used to be that you needed to have a copyright notice on creative works for them to be considered copyright protected, but nowadays (I forget when the law changed) creative works (i.e. anything inherently eligible) are automatically copyright protected, regardless of whether they carry a notice, or are published.

There's quite a widespread incorrect belief that anything you find on the web without an explicit copyright notice is fair game for copying, but there is zero legal basis for that... Just the reality that a self-published hobbyist web author/photographer may be less agressive in pursuing copyright infringement than a traditional dead tree publisher.

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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2007, 12:57:53 am »

Regarding copyright in the U.S., the following site is worth taking a look at:

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

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« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2007, 03:22:33 am »


The same is true in the US - it used to be that you needed to have a copyright notice on creative works for them to be considered copyright protected, but nowadays (I forget when the law changed) creative works (i.e. anything inherently eligible) are automatically copyright protected, regardless of whether they carry a notice, or are published.

There's quite a widespread incorrect belief that anything you find on the web without an explicit copyright notice is fair game for copying, but there is zero legal basis for that... Just the reality that a self-published hobbyist web author/photographer may be less agressive in pursuing copyright infringement than a traditional dead tree publisher.

Ben


From my understanding of copyright, there was never a need for a copyright notice in the United States.  Once the item is fixed in some form, it is automatically copyrighted.  Having a copyright notice makes it easier to win a lawsuit and that is about all.  You also can register a copyright in the United States, which again makes it easier to enforce the copyright in a legal dispute.

As for pursuing a copyright violation, it depends on how much you are willing to pay.  It cost money to bring a lawsuit and most people don't want the hassle of going to court.
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2007, 04:18:51 pm »

I believe you had to register before 1977. Since then copyright is automatic with the creation of a work, though one can still register as insurance.

I refer to the U.S. here; I don't know about elsewhere.
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2008, 03:02:51 pm »

In the U.S., before January 1, 1978, one needed a copyright notice on the first publication to have copyright protection.  This copyright notice had to be of the right form with a date, copyright symbol or word, and the name of the copyright holder, registration was not required.  The first copyright was good only for 28 years, but could be renewed by registering the copyright.  No notice is required for unpublished works before January 1, 1978, but they could be registered for protection.  Publication has technical and legal requirements.

During the first 28 years of a copyright, the copyrighted item did not need to be registered, but they could be registered anytime within this period to maintain copyright beyond 28 years, up to a total of 67 years.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.html#before2
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« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2008, 09:22:27 am »

I was just reading about the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case last night. Heres some info from that reading... The decision by a United States District Court ruled that exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright because the copies lack originality. Even if accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material must show sufficient originality.
The case itself was the result of Bridgeman Art Library questioning the right of Corel Corporation to reproduce high-quality photographic slides that the Library had made from original paintings which were in the public domain.The case has caused great concern among various museums, which rely on income received from licensing photographic reproductions of objects and works in their collections. Some speculate the case would likely not apply to photographs of three-dimensional objects, as the photographic arrangement would plausibly require some creativity. This line of reasoning has been followed in other cases, such as Eastern America Trio Products v. Tang Electronic Corp (2000), where it was ruled that there is "very broad scope for copyright in photographs, encompassing almost any photograph that reflects more than 'slavish copying'.
"While the Court's conclusion as to the law governing copyrightability renders the point moot, the Court is persuaded that plaintiff's copyright claim would fail even if the governing law were that of the United Kingdom." However recent events have thrown further doubt about the validity of the original rulings under UK law. Not only has the Museum Copyright Group, as outlined below, received legal counsel in the UK contradicting the rulings, more recently in May 07 a reenactment of the case by two leading professors of Intellectual Property at Queen Mary College, University of London resulted in a judgement in favour of Bridgeman, and against Corel. In British copyright law, which the US judge appeared to have misunderstood, the skill, labour and judgement of the creator is protectable by copyright law as much as "originality". Thus the skill, labour and judgement involved in the creation of a high-quality photographic image is likely to be protectable by copyright in the United Kingdom.

Remember the law is different in the US then the UK. In the UK they have the "sweat of one's brow" doctrine where the creator of a copyrighted work, even if it is completely unoriginal, is entitled to have his effort and expense protected, and no one else may use such a work without permission, but must instead recreate the work by independent research or effort.

Before we get too worked up remember that while several federal courts have followed the ruling in Bridgeman, though its persuasive legal authority, as a district court opinion, has not been confirmed. It has yet to be cited by any appellate-level circuit court, and has also not been reviewed by the Supreme Court.
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« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2010, 06:14:41 am »

CNG policy enunciated under FAQ's:
Can I use a photograph from CNG's website?
Any of our photographs may be reproduced as long as credit is given to CNG as the source of the photographs. Please include our site’s URL, www.cngcoins.com, in any citation.


Common sense and acknowledgment is all that is required. For clarification: The second point (website URL) is not obligatory in a legal sense but a courtesy.


acsearch : http://www.acsearch.info/faq.html
Who are the owners of the data?
The data belongs to the auction houses, dealers and photographers, which are named and linked in each case.


CoinArchives: http://www.coinarchives.com/a/faq.php
Can I use some images from CoinArchives.com for my publication/Web site/research paper?
I don't own the copyright for any of the material in the CoinArchives database, so I don't have the authority to let you use it. You need to contact the firm that originally produced the material and ask them for permission. Most firms are more than happy to allow the use of their material for non-commercial purposes.



The salient point of the coinsoftime summation:

If a photograph is taken of a 2,000 year old coin, the coin itself is not subject to copyright protection and, therefore, the coin is in the public domain. The same principal would apply to a painting. Most people would agree with this part. The next element is the physical reproduction of an image of the coin. Again, we are dealing only with a coin in the public domain. Most legal experts have long agreed that a photocopy or a scan would not be subject to copyright as it is not considered original or creative. Therefore, the first pillar that private property or copyright exists by the sheer act of creating an image is not true.The second pillar that is cited as a foundation for copyright of a coin photograph is that it can require some technical skill, such as proper lighting, resolution, and exposure, and consequently must be original and creative and worthy of copyright protection. However, when closely examined, this argument falls apart. The purpose of taking the photograph is to give a faithful rendering of the actual coin, not to create a work of art. The photographer is trying to give the potential buyer or reader a true sense of what the coin would look like if they had the coin in their own hands. Such a reproduction is not considered original or creative for copyright purposes in the USA. If a photographer created a montage of coin photographs or altered the image from what can be seen on the actual coin itself then a case could be argued that an original work was created.
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« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2010, 10:52:57 am »

Nobody should be worried about posting pics here, except me.  If someone informs me they own a photograph posted on the boards and they want it removed, then I will review the ownership claim and potential fair use, and consider removing that specific image.   
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« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2010, 10:59:45 am »

If I buy a coin from a seller, who has made a photo of my coin for his lists, can I forbid him to use this photo after buying the coin, or is he allowed to use his photo of my coin for further purposes?

Any legal opinions?

Best regards
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