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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  June 2006, Week 4

ARCHIVES June 2006, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Copyright question--long

From:

Leah Prescott <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Leah Prescott <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 27 Jun 2006 16:52:44 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (111 lines)

I am not an expert, just offering an opinion, but I think, as in almost all copyright questions, this goes back to the "creator".  Did this woman actually take the photographs, and if not, was copyright in them officially transferred to her?  As far as copyright is concerned, it doesn't really matter who has possession of the physical objects.  So if she is the creator and didn't officially transfer copyright via a certificate of gift, or such, then the only recourse is the murky Fair Use or Section 108 provisions - I don't think there is any kind of copyright exception for police work.  In terms of the actual physical photographs, determining legal ownership would be a whole other process.  So my guess on your questions would be - 1.  Yes, they are definitely records, and they are currently public - but that could change.  2.  If it were determined that she was the rightful owner of the actual photographs, I don't think you would have no choice but to return them - it would be an awkward situation if she were the copyright holder, but not the legal owner - of course this happens all the time with works of art, for instance, but it is usually an amicable arrangement - it might not be in this case.  3. I would think photocopies are way better than nothing - even better would be to negotiate for copy prints (with probable restrictions on use - like making photocopies) 4.  If you make photocopies and she owns copyright, you are violating her copyright EXCEPT if the copies are within the provisions of Fair Use or Section 108.

Again, I am not an expert!





Leah Prescott
Assistant Archivist
Research Library
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA  90049-1688
310.440.6277
310.440.7783 fax
[log in to unmask]


>>> "Kennedy, Deborah" <[log in to unmask]> 06/27/06 4:08 PM >>>

Between 1974-1989 the King County Department of Public Safety (Sheriff's
Office) investigated the disappearance and murder of several young women
in King County. They narrowed their search to one suspect, Ted Bundy.
While Bundy was never prosecuted in King County the investigation was
considered to be ground breaking in the methods used. King County
Archives holds the record of that investigation. 

Eventually the Sheriff's office gathered enough information to circulate
a description of their suspect and a probable first name "Ted". After
the name was made public a woman contacted the Sheriff's office and
after several phone calls she agreed to be interviewed by the detectives
in charge of the case. In the course of that interview the woman gave
the detective some photographs of Ted Bundy. The record of that exchange
reads as follows:

"R/O then requested to view photographs and [name withheld] provide
snapshots of Bundy taken within the past year and turned them over to
R/O. I then advised her that the photos along with other comparison
photos would be shown to witnesses in an attempt to make further
identification or elimination of Bundy. The interview was terminated and
R/O left the residence advising [name withheld] that I would notify her
of the results of the photo identification."

Those photographs were included in the investigation files received by
King County Archives. The woman who gave the photographs to the
detective claims copyright of the photographs. An agreement was reached
that the Archives would not release her name. That means that all
contact with her is through her attorney. Occasionally, we receive
requests for copies of the photographs. We have been providing black and
white photocopies of the photographs with a disclaimer, "King County
Archives does not hold the copyright on these materials." We have not
supplied our patrons with photographic reproductions or digital scans.
The photocopies are of relatively poor quality which has generated
subsequent requests for digital scans and reproductions.

In fulfilling a recent request I began looking for a permanent
resolution to this issue. I have been working with one of the County's
attorneys. He has been corresponding with the woman's attorney.
Currently, the copyright holder is not considering any requests for
permission to use the photographs. In fact, her attorney is saying that
providing photocopies of the photographs with our disclaimer violates
her copyrights and questions if they are, in fact, public records. She
would like the photos returned to her.

Are these photographs "public records"? 
Can I in good conscience as the guardian of the historical record return
the photographs to her?
If not, and if we could come to agreement with the copyright holder to
do so, would photocopies of the photographs in the collection serve the
historical purpose?
If we keep the photographs, are we violating her copyright by providing
photocopies?

Your thoughts and opinions on this matter would be appreciated.

Deborah Kennedy
County Archivist 
1215 E. Fir Street
RED-ES-0100
Seattle, WA 98122
206-205-1396
www.metrokc.gov/archives 



A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
For the terms of participation, please refer to http://www.archivists.org/listservs/arch_listserv_terms.asp.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, send e-mail to [log in to unmask]
      In body of message:  SUB ARCHIVES firstname lastname
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To post a message, send e-mail to [log in to unmask]

Or to do *anything* (and enjoy doing it!), use the web interface at
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Problems?  Send e-mail to Robert F Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>

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