If I purchase images slides, negatives and digital images from an estate sale, can I license those images through Getty Images or another large stock photo agency?

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If I purchase images slides, negatives and digital images from an estate sale, can I license those images through Getty Images or another large stock photo agency?

My question centers on owning the rights to the photos without a contract stating
I have been assigned the rights. I would be purchasing these photos from an
individual in California who purchased them from an estate sale in California.

The images consist of boxes of slides, negatives and a personal computer of the
photographer with 50-100k image files.

Are the rights relinquished when images are sold at an estate sale?

Thanks,
Brian Humek

Asked on June 1, 2018 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, the rights are not thereby relinquished. Buying physical copies of images does not convey copyright: after all, if you buy a print from someone, you don't get the copyright to the print--you only get the physical copy you purchased. Copyright can only be transferred by an agreement specifically assigning or transferring it to another. Otherwise, without such an agreement, buying the physical images, even the negatives or digital files, gives you copies of the images, but not the right to license others to download, reproduce, publish, etc. them.


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