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Questions on licensing very old photos for a video

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Neil Orman
Questions on licensing very old photos for a video
on Oct 11, 2019 at 5:09:49 pm

I'd be grateful for any advice on this topic. In particular there are some photos from the 1940s and 1950s, a few taken by Life Magazine and another by a freelance photographer who has probably long passed away. My questions:
-Has anyone ever used old Life magazine photos in a video? I'm assuming Time-Life is the contact for this, but it looks like Getty also has a big storehouse of these images. But these photos aren't the type of super famous people that I think Getty usually prefers. Any quick tips?
-In general, any advice on this type of 'photo detective' work, or licensing/negotiating the use of photos (especially old ones)? I relied largely on public domain photos, but there are several key ones for which I believe I need to rights, including one of Einstein at our meeting in 1933. We found the photo at the web site below, from which I'm getting a quote:
https://www.akg-images.co.uk/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2UMESQ57DAL6_A&P...
-Also in general, how much does 'fair use' covers for a use like this? Specifically, we're a nonprofit but this video is to promote our Annual Meeting. And I think that kind of use requires a license for any photo we didn't take ourselves, unless they're public domain of course.
-Finally, below is a draft of the video, with the password: history. I'd be interested in any quick editing notes or feedback too.
Much appreciated, Neil

https://vimeo.com/363207653
password: history


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Mark Suszko
Re: Questions on licensing very old photos for a video
on Oct 15, 2019 at 8:17:34 pm

Nice video; I liked the framing device of the moveable map underneath. It's clean and simple.

I didn't care for the beginning section of the music, only because the instrumentation in it didn't seem appropriate, but the track improves as it builds and develops over time.

Can't help with the other questions, sorry, but...

I don't think you're going to convince a judge on the Fair Use defense for these shots, though. IANAL, but I don't think the particular prong of your potential argument would be strong enough, given that there are other ways to go about communicating the same ideas.

I assume you've done reverse-image searches on the photo you want, and traced any links to it that came up.

In negotiating, I'd stress that I don't need exclusive rights to the image, just limited ones. They might charge a lower fee if the period you use the video for is just a one-time showing. But this is the kind of video the Society would probably want to keep around and re-purpose for the web or something. So consider if you want an expiration date for your access to use of the image. That adds cost.


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Neil Orman
Re: Questions on licensing very old photos for a video
on Oct 22, 2019 at 8:59:18 pm

Thanks for the great notes Mark, and the feedback on the video! I appreciate you watching it, you sharing great thoughts as always. And you make a good point on the perhaps too subtle opening to the music. I'm going to see what I can do there. I had this hardest time finding music for this video, due to its length, and this was the best fit I could find. But I agree it would be nice if the music had a more powerful start.
And great points on the images and the fair use question. I'm still having a hard time finding the copyright owners on 3-4 key photos, because the photos are so old. Life said they don't actually own any of these images, and I'll have to track down individual photographers, some of whom may have passed away.
Just let me know if you or others have more thoughts on that, and thank you again for the helpful notes!
Neil


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Mark Suszko
Re: Questions on licensing very old photos for a video
on Oct 22, 2019 at 9:24:26 pm

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. the fastest way I know how to find out you you need to pay for the rights to those images is... run 'em on the air and wait for their lawyer to call, lol.

Regarding the music, It's not bad music. Just sounded a little too ukulele-like at the start (and I love ukulele), but it seemed a little "off" for the start of the video... I will say it gets better as it goes.

Something I lean on heavily is SmartSound from SonicFire pro. Their loop-based music has an algorithm that can automatically arrange a song to be literally any custom length you require with variations tailored to use as beds, voice-over support, etc, and you can still add in little flourishes and "hits" on a time cue to accentuate a shot. They cover a lot of genre's too. And it doesn't require any knowledge of music theory or composition to use, though if you haven musical ability at all, it can let you further customize the track by mixing the loops around. You own everything you make, pay once and you are set; no additional licensing costs, ever. They have an online version of it now, might be worth a look and listen. No I don't own stock, but I'm such a fan of them, maybe I should.


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