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Copyright in cases of liquidation

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 16 ✭✭✭ fun_gav


    I'm looking to get permission to use images relating to a company/brand that was liquidated in the 1980s. As the company no longer exists, does anyone have an inkling how are issues such as copyright effected, or know of the correct body/resource to contact?

    Any thoughts appreciated!


  • Hey, I wouldn't image that there'd be a problem unless the company brand was bought by someone else. I will send an e-mail to my university's copyright team to ask though.

    However, I'm still currently tied to a UK university (Leicester), so laws might be different.


  • If you are using the images for a thesis or other educational use there are plenty of exemptions. It's not called Fair Use on this side of the Atlantic though

    If you want to reuse the images for commercial purposes then unfortunately there is no such thing as abandonware. Someone owns the rights and things can remain in limbo for ages while the lawyers line their pockets. A lot of old computer games and films have been unavailable for 20-30 years. Copyright will exist for at least 70 years after the last significant contributor died or 90 years for corporate works so take it as a rule that it's unlikely you will be able to re-use anything created in your lifetime.

    Of course these spans are ratcheted up every time Mickey Mouse is due to expire. (not a joke)

  • Heya, I got a reply from the person looking after copyright at my university:
    Usually if a company closes, for whatever reason, copyright of works it owns will return to the creator. If there is no way to ascertain who this is, then you may be ok to re-use the item, but there is still an element of risk in doing so, as the copyright owner may come forward. The risk level would also be related to what use you wish to make of the logo. If you wanted to use it for commercial purposes there is likely to be a higher risk for you than if it were for non-commercial purposes.

    They also said to try these websites (but they are for UK, I think):

  • Ah okay, very good. Sorry I probably should have been more specific. It's to use some old advertisements, that incorporate a company logo, to illustrate a section of a book about the company's HQ, an art deco building since demolished. The book is a short-run (500) non-commercial publication, produced through cultural funding. I've obtained rights for many images for the book, from various archives or lenders where copyright is established, but this is a gray/muddied area indeed! This info has been of help, many thanks!

  • Kevster wrote: »
    Heya, I got a reply from the person looking after copyright at my university:

    They also said to try these websites (but they are for UK, I think):

    I'm inclined to think the response you received is incorrect.

    Copyright is part of the assets of the Company and is it's intellectual property.

    In most cases I would expect the Company would have been the creator of the work, and therefore also the owner. There may be some circumstances where a company licensed the copyright - but I wouldn't expect this to be the norm, particularly in relation to branding.

    Why, and how the company was wound-up would be particularly relevant.

    When Company was liquidated, the property would have been sold off or perhaps divided-up between creditors, shareholders etc.

    One thing is for sure, the copyright (intellectual property) would have some owner, who that is in any particular case, is anyone's guess, and the only person I could imagine who could tell you for sure would be the liquidator.

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  • :(
    The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called "orphan works", by placing the work into what's known as "extended collective licensing" schemes