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Did the letter from the MD, state whether any action would be taken? Please can you also provide some information on the images in question? Thank you
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OK thank you for the additional information. Please leave it with me and I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks
Many thanks for your patience. When a company becomes insolvent of ceases to exist that does not mean that all its intellectual property rights, such as copyright, ends too. They will continue to exist even after the dissolution of the company so to assume that just because the company ceases to operate or exist, there is no protection against its intellectual property, is incorrect.
Also another consideration is that photograph copyright automatically belongs to the person who created the photo, which would be the photographer. They may have given a company licence to use the photos and to extend the copyright to them but in the end they would be the official copyright holder. So even if a company was to lose their copyright over photos, that could still be retained by the photographer.
Therefore, in the circumstances you would still very likely require the consent of the company, or those running it, or the photographer of the photos to be able to use them.
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It is not as simple as that. If the photographer was an employee of the company then the copyright officially belongs to the company. If they were self employed or a contractor, i.e. not directly employed by them, they would own the copyright. However, there could have been a formal assignment of that copyright to the company. If the company ceases to exist then they will still own the copyright, I know it appears strange that a company that no longer exists can hold copyright but that is the case. A good example of this was when the Enron company collapsed years ago – even after it ceased to exist they retained a number of different intellectual property rights, some which of were eventually sold for billons.
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The term ‘public domain’ is often misunderstood – to be in the public domain means that there is no copyright ownership attached to something, not that they are available online or been distributed freely by others. So they would not be in the public domain as they would still have copyright attached to them. As to percentage it is not a matter pf percentages – copyright protects derivative works, so if it is clear that something was derived from a copyrighted image then it can be covered, regardless of the percentage of changes. But what you have to remember is that it is the image itself that is copyrighted, not the contents of the image. So if you have created something and it is still in your possession, you can take a new image yourself of the work and that would belong to you.
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Those who were in charge so for example ex directors or shareholders who would have protected the company's interests when it was active
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it depends on what agreement there was between them - a formal contract is not required, for example the photographer may have verbally assigned the licence of the photos to the company but they would know if that was the case so you can ask them directly