Reproducing images and copyright

Arunabh Ghosh's picture

Greetings folks,

I need to reproduce three images from the following sources (all from the mid-1950s) for an upcoming publication: 
1. Times of India online database via ProQuest (advertisement)
2. Guangming ribao online database (photograph)
3. Archived personal papers (Newspaper photograph that I personally clicked at the archive)

Do people know how copyright works in each of these cases? I am trying to track down reproduction rules in each case and any advice or information would be much appreciated.

Thank you!


2 and 3 should be subject to Chinese copyright law, which did not exist until the 1980s. So common practice has been that everything before that period is considered to be copyright free. I reproduced a 1970s poster in my first book.
Even according to the law, copyright lasts only 50 years, I believe. You can check it here.


Thanks, Fabio! This is most helpful and relief-inducing.

Unfortunately, item 3 is from an archive located in the US, who have just informed me that since the photo carries AP attribution, I will have to pursue the matter with them. Have since emailed AP and heard back that the image is no longer in their collection and, therefore, "[we are] not able to license for use of this image as we likely do not own the copyright." I think that means I am free to use the image (the archive has already relinquished their claim), but will show it to a lawyer friend or two to confirm my reading.

Inspired by your link to the Chinese copyright law, I looked up the corresponding one for India (, where the rule of thumb seems to be 60 years. Again, will have this confirmed, by if that is indeed the case, I may be in the clear!

Thanks again,

Disclaimer: Not a lawyer! And did I mention, I'm not a lawyer?

You might need to be a little careful about:

2. Guangming ribao online database (photograph)

The original material is surely out of copyright, and was likely never covered (for the reasons Fabio mentioned). However, the database compiler may claim copyright on their reproduction of the material. Ideally you could obtain the original and make your own photo/scan. Alternatively, you can assert "fair use" by subjecting the image to critical commentary.

Oh, and I'm not a lawyer.

Alexander C. Cook

Thanks, Alex. Will look into what copyright permission from the database compiler might entail. It is hard enough tracking down database folks in the US (took me a long time to figure out who to contact at ProQuest, e.g.), so I imagine this will be even harder with Chinese companies. Obtaining the original and taking my own photo might be the easiest way to go, assuming the microfilm version is still in decent shape.

Thanks again!