MICHAL ADAMOVSKÝ

Autorské právo ve fotografii do roku 1948 | pdf

"This work is concerned with the historical development of copyright issues in the field of photography since 1948. Its goal is to search for concrete connections in the development of photographic copyrights worldwide, and in the local Czech context. Currently, photography touches all aspects of human activity, and because of the this, a historical analysis of this development of protection is necessary to completely understand photograph´s current, contemporary position and direction. For this reason, several historical court cases have been included, which have been key in the fight to legitimize photography as an art, and crucial in giving legal recognition to the photographer as an author of a work, protected by law."

"……the development of copyright is inseparable from the technological and social development of society. Until the beginning of the 18th century, copyright was not even necessary; and this wasn´t a result of the lack of artistic production. The reason was the absence of any means of mechanical reproduction methods, which were a result of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. These processes gave artistic works the opportunity to be circulated and reproduced in individual countries.

One of the first of these mechanical reproduction methods was the invention of photography in 1839 in France. In the years flowing its discovery, it remained a practice for the wealthy, as it was costly both financially and required much time. The resulting photographs could not even be reproduced. This lack of reproduction also blocked the formation of social relationships and even the relationships between the owners of the works of knowledge of process. The situation gradually changed as photographic technology became perfected. With the rise of collodion technology, which allowed one glass plate to be exposed over and over again, photography in the second half of the 19th century became so proliferated that it required legal ramifications. Due to the emancipation and individual work by many reknown photographers, but also thanks to the rising popularity of this medium in society and the recognition of its importance, European states began to include photography in legally protected entities. It is no wonder that the first dispute was in France between Meyer and Pierson from 1862.

This process was conducted separately in the individual countries, with later pointed to the need for a unified approach to these cases according the Bern Accords in 1886. Each country had its own ramifications of how to protect this work. While progressive France was a advocate of full protection, Germany for instance tried to categorize protection according the artistic merit and individual value of each photographer and would base the level of copyright on this measure, and its artistic versus societal value. The development of copyright was also influenced by the progress in technological development, especially after the development of celluloid film in 1888 and the introduction of the Kodak Brownie, which gave rise to the amateur photography movement. In reaction, copyright was extended to all works created by the analogue process, which was a clear indication in the strength of the mediums potential. At the beginning of the 20th century, most European countries were in agreement that photography should be copyrighted, but still disagreed on the extent. The need for individual laws and regulations was only reinforced by the introduction of photographs in print media and newspapers, and with the advent of telephotography, this need grew as photographs were able to travel enormous distances.

The debate around the status of photography within the European states was influenced by copyright laws in Czechoslovakia, which joined the Bern Convention in 1912, and adopted the photographic copyright norm, which gave rise the new Copyright Law in 1926, which was very progressive for its time.

The development of photography in the 20th century was influenced by two world conflicts, which changed the role of photography from mere witness to weapon. After WWII, the role of photography was indisputable, which was proven at the Brussels Conference of 1948. This year marked the adoption of photography among the other arts, in the Bern Accords which all European countries were bound to respect.

In the Czech Lands, 1948 marked a change both politically and fiscally. The Czechoslovak socialist state did not back out of the Bern Accords (after having entered them in 1921) and even though the communist regime did censor individual artistic output, the copyright laws remain rather progressive until 1989.

In conclusion of this work, it is important to note, that I would like this work to become an impetus for further research into this issue, and I would like to devote my energy to mapping out the copyright development in photography until the present. Currently, there are new issues to be reexamined, such as individual (civil) protection, digital dissemination of data, or the problematic of databases such as Corbis Corporation or Getty Images. A historical analysis of this development and the first formulations of legal protection of photography is, according to me, absolutely crucial to understanding the medium´s current status as well as the future direction."