Iwo Jima copyright?

I’ve seen the ‘origional’ picture of the flag raising on many websites, some sites have a copyright warning, some don’t.
If I copied the origional picture from a website with no warning message and sold the copies, what’s to stop the other sites from trying to prosecute me?
Could they?
Does somebody actually ~own~ the copyright on that picture?

There are two pictures of the event at Iwo Jima. A Navy photographer took a picture of the original flag being lowered. This photo does not have a copyright (its government property), and is part of the public domain.

The second photo (the one that everyone is familiar with) was taken by the photographer Rosenthal. The Associated Press owned the rights to the photo, and after 50 years, the AP renewed the copyright.

There was also a film taken by the military of the whole thing, and that is part of the public domain. Presumably you could take a still from the film and use it for whatever purpose you want.

I’m not sure what the legal implications would be if you copied the picture from a website and used it for your own amusement in private(though its a safe bet that the AP would not bother to file a lawsuit against you for this)…but if you were to turn around and sell copies of the photo? That’s definitely illegal and if the AP found out about it, I’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate to send their lawyers after you.

Even if you don’t sell the photo, but use it in some other public way (like putting it on your website), you would still be opening yourself up to some legal problems. I’m not sure how agressive the Associated Press is about protecting their copyrights, but a lot of other companies are pretty quick to take owners of websites into court for similar infractions.

I’m guessing, though, that with a photo that famous it wouldn’t be too hard to get permission from the AP to use the photo for some non-commercial purpose.

(What staff report is this connected to?)

It’s not connected to a Staff Report nor one of Cecil’s columns, and so is being moved to the appropriate forum.

My goof C K, thanks for fixing it!
And, thank you Starbury for a very thorough answer to my question. I did not know the AP still held the copyright to that photo, but it makes perfect sense that they would.

How much protection does copyrighting a photograph afford?
Photographs are taken from a moment in time, not like a company logo or trademark.
What if I used the APs Iwo Jima flag raising photograph as a model for a sculpture, mass produced and sold them for monetary gain, can the copyright on that photo stop me?
It just seems odd to me that someone could possibly own the right to an image, a memory, that goes along with the photograph.

So, if I visit Wash. D.C./Arlington, Va, visit the actual Memorial, take a picture of it and post it on my website…

did I just violate anything?

No, the picture in the OP is of the actual raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, not the artist’s rendition of it, sculpted and sitting by the Potomac.

There’s a little difference.

I imagine the AP would have a very tough time going after you, because the statue is in the public domain, even if it is based around an AP photo. I don’t think any judge is going to do anything but laugh at the AP and reprimand them for bringing a frivolous and, frankly, vindictive lawsuit.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m certain the statue was erected with public monies and, therefore, is in the public domain.

The same as copyrighting anything. No one can reproduce the copyrighted material without the express permission of the copyright holder.

So? Newspaper articles are taken from a moment in time, and they’re copyrighted.

If they can prove you used their copyrighted material, they’ll sue you in an instant – and win. The copyright holder controls derivative rights, and making a sculpture from their copyrighted material is covered.

Why? They own the photograph in the same way a copyright holder owns a nonfiction article or book. The skill of the photographer that makes the image memorable. There are many memoraible photos that are under copyright (the sailor kissing the girl in Times Square when peace was announced; Capa’s photo of a soldier being shot, etc.).

Further, you’ve chosen a very bad example. The Iwo Jima flag raising photo was restaged for the benefit of the AP photographer (a flag was raised, but the photographers weren’t there at the time – which makes sense, since it’s hardly likely for a photographer to be on the front lines). So it’s actually a fictional representation of an actual event. In that light, it’s hard to argue that the photographer wasn’t creating something with the photo.

well, statues are copyrightable. all performances are. art pieces, performances art pieces, pretty much everything is. teacher told us of a circus performer who got shot out of a cannon. local news showed the entire thing. and got sued for infringement. and lost. they could have showed part of it legally. but they didn’t. so unless there’s something in the law about governmental monuments not having copyrights (there probably is), and if the statue is government owned (i don’t know), then it’s probably ok. but AP probably let the govenment use the picuture without paying a license, but they probably still hold the copyright on it. you could post a picture just fine. but if you tried to make a copy of it, you’d be in trouble.

We are actually arguing copyright law at Great Debates, in the context of Napster. Tejota has posted a link to a useful site with lots of answers on US copyright law.

Now I simply ~must~ harp on the Iwo Jima example, cause it makes such a great example for the sake of this post. I’ve not seen the video yet, but if it was taken from the same angle as the picture in question…
Let’s say, “the” photograph that the AP owns rights to depicts a very distinct image of 4 Marines at a precise moment in time.
Maybe the video image (‘pubic domain’ image) shows the very same image in one frame (?).
Now, how can the AP prove that my sculpture is based from their shot of the same moment and not from the video image?
See what I mean?

I’d have edited this in but some message scared me.

For anyone actually interested in this discussion…
The sculpture in Arlington is so very different from the photo, the 4 Marines were obviously sculpted the way they were in order for the flag mast to be more upright.
So, for the sake of my question, the 2 cannot be compared.

In Anglo-Australian jurisdictions, a side by side comparison is in fact the correct test for a breach of copyright. If no permission was given to the sculptor, I’d think (on the basis of the law I know) that it’d be an arguable breach.

As a slight aside, there is a book recently published on the history of the 5 guys who put up the flag at Iwo Jima, the name of which escapes me. I had a flip through it recently, and it looks like a decent read.

Maybe the video image (‘pubic domain’ image) shows the very same image in one frame (?).


Not likely. The photographer asked the soldiers to recreate the scene. He and they probably had no access to the film image, so their positions would be different.

Compare them. If the soldiers were in the same position as the copyrighted photo, it’s a violation. If they were in the same position as the film image, it isn’t. It it matched neither, it’d be an interesting case for the lawyers to hash out.

Yes and no. This line contains a supposition; that is, that it would have to be worth the court costs and effort to sue. Few people ever “sue you in an instant” (except Disney).