Could I legally publish such a book with just a bare disclaimer? 9 Answers as of October 09, 2013

I have been collecting magazine covers of my favorite actress and have accumulated more than 200 covers from many different countries. I would like to publish them in a book for other fans to enjoy. There are several similar books on the market now, for example, Audrey Hepburn: International Cover Girl, published in 2009 and authored by Brizel. The book features more than 600 magazine covers of Audrey Hepburn. On the copyright page, the author simply states: “Text and compilation copyright 2009 by Brizel. Individual covers copyright by the respective magazines. The magazines in this collection are from the collection of the author. Photographs by Dixon.” I wonder if I could publish such a book with my magazine covers. In fact, I thought about making the book a price guide to the magazine covers with a brief commentary about each magazine and article. Probably 98% of the magazines are no longer for sale, and some of the magazine publishers don’t even exist anymore. It would be impossible to write each publisher (especially foreign publishers) to get their permission to use the scanned image of the cover. Also, the magazine scans in my book would probably be only one-fourth of the size of the actual magazine. Could I legally publish such a book with just a bare disclaimer as Brizel did in his book?

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Bay Oak Law
Bay Oak Law | Andrew K Jacobson
You do not own the copyright in any of those advertisements. Someone else owns them, if they are not in the public domain. You need to get permission from each and every copyright owner. That is going to be expensive. Violating someone's copyright could cost you up to $150,000 per work infringed, and you propose dozens of them. I think this is going to be too expensive. They also have, in many cases, trademarks. You will also need the permission, in most costs, of the trademark owners.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/9/2013
Roe Law Firm
Roe Law Firm | Theodore M. Roe
There are a variety of reasons why this is a bad idea not least of which is that there most certainly is a copyright held by the publishing company, however, there may also be copyrights held by the model and photographer. The disclaimer you refer to is not effective at eliminating infringement liability absent a license which provides for publication with the photo credit. If you were to publish a copyrighted work and that copyright is registered the liability could be up to $150,000 per violation.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 10/8/2013
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
I believe you'll be ok with publishing it with a similar disclaimer as Brizel, and moreover, your work would probably qualify as being "transformative" and thus copyrightable under your own name.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/8/2013
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material. The most important point here is one that is commonly misunderstood today: copyright in a new version covers only the material added by the later author, and has no effect one way or the other on the copyright or public domain status of the preexisting material. . . . The second part of the sentence that makes up section 103(a) deals with the status of a compilation or derivative work unlawfully employing preexisting copyrighted material. In providing that protection does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully, the bill prevents an infringer from benefiting, through copyright protection, from committing an unlawful act, but preserves protection for those parts of the work that do not employ the preexisting work. Thus, an unauthorized translation of a novel could not be copyrighted at all, but the owner of copyright in an anthology of poetry could sue someone who infringed the whole anthology, even though the infringer proves that publication of one of the poems was unauthorized. Under this provision, copyright could be obtained as long as the use of the preexisting work was not unlawful, even though the consent of the copyright owner had not been obtained. For instance, the unauthorized reproduction of a work might be lawful under the doctrine of fair use or an applicable foreign law, and if so the work incorporating it could be copyrighted.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 10/8/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
Based upon your description there would be a risk. In the US Copyright laws protect the publishing corporation for 95 years regardless of if the publication is available for sale. It would be illegal to print money, but not illegal to reprint magazine covers. You could legally publish the book and the owner of the copyright can sue you for copyright infringement where damages would be awarded for unauthorized publication.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/8/2013
    Webb IP Law Group
    Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
    Copyright rights do not end when a company goes out of business and through the Berne Convention, extend beyond the country in which items are published. You may want to talk with a lawyer about whether your plans may fall into a fair use exception and/or ways to be more certain that it is fair use. That should be done privately, not in a public forum so you can fairly discuss your options.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
    Generally - No. Under US Copyright Law - only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, an adaptation of that work. The owner of a copyright is generally the author or someone who has obtained the exclusive rights from the author. In any case where a copyrighted work is used without the permission of the copyright owner, copyright protection will not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully. The unauthorized adaption of a work may constitute copyright infringement.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Lawyer for Indie Media
    Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
    You need to get your own lawyer to work with you on this. The wording you quote is not a disclaimer, it is a copyright notice. Underlying this notice, there may be hundreds of clearances. The legal point in any publishing is to avoid lawsuits. To do that, you need to work with a lawyer, do your due diligence legally, and get insurance to cover errors and omissions.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/8/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Not only do you need permission from the magazine's publisher, you may also need permission from the photographer and the actress. If the photograph and the magazine cover are no longer under copyright protection and the actress is deceased you may be able to use the image without permission. Get as many releases as you possibly can and credit each shot/cover in an appendix at the back of the book. Check with a copyright attorney to see if your project may be covered under the Fair Use Doctrine.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/8/2013
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