Now What?: Copyright Concerns
6/1/2004
Copying photos at an in-store photo kiosk.

Q. I have copies of 1940s professional photos of my mother and aunts. When I tried to make more copies at an in-store photo kiosk, store personnel wouldn't allow it. The studio no longer exists, and the photographer has long since died. How can I make copies?

A. US copyright law is notoriously complex, and it does cover unpublished material such as your photographs. Basically, copyright covers any unpublished work created before Jan. 1, 1978, for the life of the creator plus 70 years, or until Dec. 31, 2002 — whichever is later. (You can read copyright law at <www.copyright.gov>; there's a reader-friendly copyright table at <www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm>.)