Cashing In Our Photographic History, Fair Deal Or Cheating?

JPK Huson 1863

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#1
gatehouse famous.jpg

Using this iconic photo of Elizabeth and Peter Thorn's home, Gettysburg Gatehouse taken July, 1863. Center of so much of our History, so significant to the battle, forever branded in our collective minds it's one of several nearly sacred spots. Making a point- image belongs to all of us both figuratively and literally. You can get it for free by means of your tax dollars put to amazing use, or buy it.

One reason I post so many images of the era is exactly this. History belongs to everyone. I don't mean relics, private collections or books- people work hard at those. I mean the History preserved for all of us in so many different, public access archives I'm still finding them. Thing is, when ' Googling ' topics, images come up watermarked and for sale, for a price, it's yours. So you don't use it. Guess where a huge amount originated? LoC for one source, National Archives, another. Our tax dollars support these wonderful archives, they return the support by giving us public access to their collections.

Privately run sites, same thing but rely on donations. You can find most periodicals, if not newspapers. Hathitrust, Project Gutenberg, Internet Archives, The Lincoln Foundation- dedicated to History, they share it with all of us.

So you see the same thing on Ebay. Images from LoC for sale, watermarked, but yours for a few bucks. Heck, I've seen images from LoC someone is claiming is original. I'm ALLLLL about making your own way in the world. Been self employed for too many years not to be fiercely defensive of challenging your own finances, see if you can go it out there. But. This bugs me, thought I'd see if anyone has an opinion. Someone looking for an image may not be aware of resources encouraging us to share, is it a. fair to kinda dupe them ( no fan of PT Barnum's egress ) and b. cool to profit in this way from our collective history- and tax dollars?

Seeing a lot of it.
 

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ARW

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#2
I don't think I care if someone wants to make a profit from searching for, printing, advertising and shipping old photos. I am sure many people don't have or want to take the time to search for them, or even the knowledge to do it. It seems no different to me than publishers printing and selling books that are in the public domain. HOWEVER.....I do find it misleading when they advertise them as "original" without noting it is a reprint of an original. In my mind that is a truth in advertising issue. And I never believed in "Let the buyer beware".
 
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#5
I think this about sums it up. It's the same with any many online retailers trying to sell things from the later 1800's. They'll put "Civil War" on the item, when in fact, the item was made/invented 10 or 15 years after the war. One of the egregious examples of this are the orange tinted sunglasses you see online being sold as "marksmen" glasses or "Sniper glasses". 5 minutes with Mr. Google will tell you those orange tinted glasses weren't really produced until 1880's or 1890's and issued to British troops in the Sudan as....sunglasses.

The idea is the same though. People who are selling these re-prints under the premise that they are original images are the same kind of panderer. They are trying to get an inflated value out of something by attaching it to the Civil War. Thank you for the post and feel it's an issue worth discussing. My bet, in 2019, most are too lazy to go do their own digging....
 

pfcjking

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#6
I get more bothered by people auctioning off an enfield rifle with obvious markings from Nepal, yet they are advertising it as a "confederate enfield". Suddenly, it goes from a $500 rusty musket to a $3,000 confederate musket.

Just get on gunbroker.com and search for "Confederate". See all the fake relics. It's disgusting.
 
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#7
What bugs me about watermarks is an unsuspecting buyer might think the seller has a copyright on the photo. Maybe a buyer doesn't have the ability or equipment to print a photo if it were downloaded from the LOC. Buying from a seller is a remedy for that.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I think this about sums it up. It's the same with any many online retailers trying to sell things from the later 1800's. They'll put "Civil War" on the item, when in fact, the item was made/invented 10 or 15 years after the war. One of the egregious examples of this are the orange tinted sunglasses you see online being sold as "marksmen" glasses or "Sniper glasses". 5 minutes with Mr. Google will tell you those orange tinted glasses weren't really produced until 1880's or 1890's and issued to British troops in the Sudan as....sunglasses.

The idea is the same though. People who are selling these re-prints under the premise that they are original images are the same kind of panderer. They are trying to get an inflated value out of something by attaching it to the Civil War. Thank you for the post and feel it's an issue worth discussing. My bet, in 2019, most are too lazy to go do their own digging....

Yes, right? You see a LOT of photos from 20 years later listed as ' Civil War ', for one thing. They seem better now but for awhile every other image of an African American civilian was listed as ' slave ', too, which drives me a little crazy.

IMO ( honest, just an opinion ), there seem to be a lot of people interested in Civil War history who just, plain don't know where to look? If someone is unaware our public access collections are available and start looking, Ebay would seem a natural place to go- they may feel it's all there is, you know?
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#9
What bugs me about watermarks is an unsuspecting buyer might think the seller has a copyright on the photo. Maybe a buyer doesn't have the ability or equipment to print a photo if it were downloaded from the LOC. Buying from a seller is a remedy for that.

This may be what bothers me the most, thank you! The watermarks, I mean. They do seem to imply there's a copyright and it's theirs to sell. See it a ton with fashion images of the era, too.

I see your point where a buyer may not be equipped to print a photo- for under a buck ( and sometimes 4 cents when they have a sale ) Snapfish, etc., will do it. I ' think ' my point is, offering these for sale, especially watermarked, implies it's the only way to go.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#10
I don't think I care if someone wants to make a profit from searching for, printing, advertising and shipping old photos. I am sure many people don't have or want to take the time to search for them, or even the knowledge to do it. It seems no different to me than publishers printing and selling books that are in the public domain. HOWEVER.....I do find it misleading when they advertise them as "original" without noting it is a reprint of an original. In my mind that is a truth in advertising issue. And I never believed in "Let the buyer beware".

You bring up another point which is a big ' IMO ', I know. Not crazy about those books, either. I don't know. It just seems a little dicey selling books that are easily available because archivists have carefully preserved them and offer us free history. It's not really ' free '. Some orgs that do it are funded by grants and donations, others it's tax dollars. One person, long dead, wrote it, more fund it because there's a belief in preserving history, others do all the work.

It's not like say, relic hunting for ACW pieces or arrowheads, someone with a ton of knowledge out there putting in the slog. They're preserving history by finding it themselves.

Someone put in slog with those books. Why is it ok for a person to treat them like ' Hey, thanks! ', and turn it around for profit. Like I said, it's IMO, so for what it's worth.
 

Waterloo50

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#11
This may be what bothers me the most, thank you! The watermarks, I mean. They do seem to imply there's a copyright and it's theirs to sell. See it a ton with fashion images of the era, too.

I see your point where a buyer may not be equipped to print a photo- for under a buck ( and sometimes 4 cents when they have a sale ) Snapfish, etc., will do it. I ' think ' my point is, offering these for sale, especially watermarked, implies it's the only way to go.
You know, ages ago I bought a collection of D-day photos that were copies, I understood that they were copies but I assumed that they were copies taken from the original photographs. It turned out that the guy selling them had simply scanned the images from various books and then printed the images out on nice photographic paper. Thankfully I hadn’t paid too much for them but it was definitely a lesson learned. Do your research first and establish the source of the photos.
 

byron ed

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#12
Tricky thing. In certain circumstances, it is the scan of an original photo that is considered an original artwork in itself, with copyright implied, and often claimed. Google (and college image banks) do assume this very thing. Their scans of period photogaphics, sheet music, books, prints, manuals etc. are preceded with a disclaimer and the scans themselves watermarked as Google (or image bank) properties.

So this becomes an issue for lawyers, not amateur historians. My understanding of it is that the Google (or image bank) disclaimer only kicks in when their scan (their "original artwork") is to be used for commercial gain (i.e. selling prints on eBay or book* copies at a reenactment sutlery). So personal or limited educational use does not require contacting Google (or the image banks) for permission. That's why we, as history mavens and educators, usually won't be in trouble. Don't hold me to that, check with your lawyer if you want to be sure.

Now the really gray areas: The actual period photographics, sheet music, books, prints, manuals etc. are long, long past copyright and had passed into public domain decades ago. If you access some of these originals on your own or as borrowed with permission from a museum or library collection, you can scan them yourself. Those scans are your property to freely use as an image (if not as content, see below*). Since your scans of those items are not essentially different from scans made by Google (or image banks) whose to deny you just using the Google (or image bank) scans in the first place, regardless of whatever disclaimer or watermarks they attempt to claim?

Knowing that, one could say with some legitimacy "how dare Google (or the image banks) claim copyright so long after the originals passed into public domain!!"


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*a caveat is that the original copyrights for published materials were for the content, not the image, as I understand it. It was the content of the publication, not the imprinted pages, that were specifically protected in the original copyright.
 



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