Sunday, June 28, 2009

A new piece

I'm a little frustrated with the latest piece I've done...not because it didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, but because of the main image I chose to use. You see, I was browsing through one of flickr's vintage photo sharing groups and came across this absolutely stunning image. There was no info included with the image itself and it appeared to be from the mid-1800s. It wasn't a typical Victorian studio photo...the girls were posed in a way that was not the "norm" for the time. That right there should have sent red flags up, but I was blissfully unaware because I was in love with the photo. Well, I ended up using it in this piece, but all the while had a sinking feeling that this photo was somehow special. I finished the piece and only then did I resign myself to do some research. Of course a quick google search provided the answer...the photo was taken by Lewis Carroll in 1863! It (and others by Carroll) are very well known because of the poses were unconventional for the day.

Original photo by Lewis Carroll

So now I'm torn. I typically use photographs that were found at flea markets, antique stores, etc. Is it okay to use this photo? Are there copyright issues around it? It does look lovely hanging on my wall and will probably stay there. But I'm wondering about copyright when it pertains to a famous photographer. Even if the photo is over 100 years old, is it okay to use?

The moral of the story is this: Do not be blinded by a beautiful image...always do your research BEFORE you create art with it.



whyte said...

Alisa, I don't think anyone can truly answer your question because even tho there is a statutory expiration of copyright, (pulling off top of my head, 72, 79 years after death of author??) heirs can keep renewing copyright which is often the case with famous artists and authors. It's a fab photo I can surely see why you are attached to it!! Maybe some further research would lead you to a foundation or someone you could write to ask permission to erase any doubt.

ArtSnark said...

Everything Pat said ;D

Great piece, by the way!

Now I am curious. I'll run it by my sis who is a law school librarian and see what she comes up with

Alisa Nordholt-Dean said...

Thanks so much for the help!

Maureen Tillman said...

Alisa, as soon as I saw the photo I thought it was a Lewis Carroll - his work is unmistakeable. He was a well known photographer as well as writer. I found a collection of about a dozen of his photos on wiki commons - that one was not included - but those that were there are purported to be public domain. So I am not sure I would be reluctant to use it. I plan on using the others. I am reading a book on public domain and I agree with the author - if we have A PIECE of something that is still under copyright he doesn't believe anyone is going to hire lawyers to pursue you - if anything you might get a cease and desist letter if that. If you were selling prints or t-shirts etc in many multiples that would be a case maybe worth the time and expense for them to pursue. This is the writer's opinion and it is mine. Everyone has to be comfortable with their own work ethics. Good luck, Maureen Tillman

Maureen Tillman said...

Alisa, I just googled Carroll's photography of children and the wiki commons files came up - I was wrong - there aren't about a dozen photos there - there are 72 photos there!

Alisa Nordholt-Dean said...

Thanks so much Maureen! I'm just upset with myself that I got sucked into those beautiful images and didn't do the research earlier.

Lucy said...

I love what you've done, even if you have to keep it for yourself. It is remarkable :)