1. jonathan.bluestein
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    jonathan.bluestein New Member

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    Copyrighted photographs

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by jonathan.bluestein, Jul 31, 2010.

    Hi there folks, new here...
    I was hoping you could help me out on this one:

    I'm writing a book about martial arts. It's non-fiction, kind of a research project. I intend to publish it in the states within a few years time.

    The book deals with a lot of topics related to martial arts and their history. In this field, the pictures needed to describe what I'm writing about are mostly pictures of martial artists that where taken by some other martial artists. While I do have a few pictures of my own and my martial artists friends to use, I do need to make use of many other photographs as well.

    As I understood the legal situation in the US, I shouldn't be worried about anything that's over 80 years old, or that was photographed prior to 1978 and wasn't declared "copyrighted".

    Two questions here:

    1. What am I to do with all those other photographs I want to use? I really ain't writing this one for the money, and I don't even know if it'll make any. I simply cannot possibly locate the owners of most of the pictures. Those are probably some old Japanese/Chinese guys sitting in remote villages far away from my country. O_O

    2. Following the last one - are the publishers gonna give me a hard time on this? I'm willing to take the "risk" of being sued for the pictures, since I don't care about the money the book is going to make, which I don't think would be much anyhow. It's also not the case that such suits are popular in the traditional martial arts world - these folks don't read English, and they sure don't care about stuff like money either. I'm also making sure to only write of the people in the pictures in a positive light... So, is there a chance that the publishers will just roll with it, saying something like "well, it's your problem if you get sued!" (I'm actually hoping that would happen :-D ).

    Thanks for all the help.

    Jonathan Bluestein,
    Israel.
     
  2. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    You need to contact the owners of the photographs, whether you like it or not, unfortunately. You cannot presume people will be okay with it, all it takes is for one person to want to start a 'fight' and you have a whole bucket-load of problems.

    You could look for public-domain photos, which means you can do what you want with them.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    All photographs are protected by copyright, and you must have the written permission of the copyright owner in order to incorporate them in your own work.

    If you find a publisher who does not insist that you have documented permission for every photograph, look for another publisher!

    This is one reason, although not the only one, that publishers typically insist on using their own sources for all photographs, figures, and other artwork.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, a legitimate publisher probably isn't going to touch this if you can't show you have ownership or permission to use the photographs. Alternatively, like any other copyrighted material, photographs do fall into the public domain. If you can demonstrate that you are only using public-domain material, you should be OK, but a publisher is likely to insist you can back up your assertions.
     
  5. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    If the concept is commercially viable and the writing is good, a publisher may accept the work and assign an artist (working from the photos you don't have permission to use) to illustrate the moves.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In general, publishers prefer to commission their own artists.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    something that hasn't been mentioned yet...

    even if you did have permission to use all those photos you've found, publishers aren't likely to publish a martial arts how-to with views of a lot of different martial artists [who also have to sign releases for pictures of themselves to be used!] and photos by a slew of different photographers used as the illustrations...

    just take a look at successfully published how-tos of this sort... do they show a mess of different people and types/ages of photos, or do they show the same artists [usually the books' authors!] demonstrating the moves and feature the by line of just a single photographer?...

    what you're wanting to do just doesn't make sense for a number of reasons and wouldn't be acceptable to any reputable publisher...
     

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