Wants to Claim Copyright and Sell Public Domain Photos

15 02 2015
2014 Winner of Best Public Domain Gif
Animal Category

Dear Rich: I have a souvenir photo book (images of public buildings, gardens, outdoor scenes) which I purchased over 30 years ago. It was published prior to 1923 (now part of the public domain, as I understand it). The book has no printed credits or copyrights, no info on who photographed the images or published the book. An Internet search has turned up one other copy of this book – it is in a USA university collection. The pages have been scanned and included in the university library’s digital collection; they have assigned a copyright to their scanned images; the digital images are available for purchase through the university. I would like to scan my copy of this book and use the images in artistic works and derivatives to sell, as well as offer the scanned digital images for sale. Would I be within my legal rights to copyright my scanned images from this book and use/sell them?

Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Public Domain.
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