There's some misstatements and hazardous generalities here.
US copyright law declares that all original expressions of art, photos,
sound, etc. memorialized in fixed form are copyrighted. No notices,
registration, etc. are necessary. Marks and notification (e.g. "c" in a
circle) may once have been required for some kinds of protection, but no
Items created since the latest changes to the copyright law are protected
for 89 years, IIRC, for the owner or its assignee(s). Earlier creations may
have been protected for shorter periods, may have required renewal and could
be subject to other restrictions. There's a chart on the US Copyright
office web site that sets out what protections and time periods apply to
various works, based on the date of their creation (or sometimes, first
publication) and the effective date of the various enactments and amendments
to the law. Old slides or other photos may or may not be protected,
depending on how these various factors apply.
Registration is not required to validate copyright. Registration does give
the owner some important rights including a presumption of copyright
ownership, attorney's fees in successful litigation, statutory damages (no
need to prove actual damage as with unregistered works) and other legal
The US Copyright office web site has lots of accurate information about
copyright which is much more reliable than presumption or guesses about how
copyright works. Missing something important can cost a copyright violator
_lots_ of money so it's worth studying.
There are a few exceptions to copyright protection, such as "fair use." see
the Copyright web site for an explanation but recall that the definition is
vague in many areas and has often needed high-stakes litigation to resolve.
This is a brief, general summary and is not legal advice. Consulting with a
copyright/intellectual property attorney is advisable before distributing
anything of doubtful status. Copyright is a very complex area and expert
help in advance can save a lot of grief--and money.
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<Once saved in this manner then....Try to find out if the slides are
copyrighted. Several sources, especially Al Chione make a lot of color
slides from the late 1930's on available over the past several decades.
Slides by Richard Kindig, Richard Jackson and others. These slides were sold
in sets. Are there any markings on the slides? Are they original slides or
copies? If original then less likely they are copyrighted.
Do you have any idea who took the slides. How many slides? The history of
the slides? Do you have any documentation dating the slides, location,
photographer? (There are many folks out here who can assist in
documentation.) Is the date on the slides? Any idea how far back they go? Or
are they all taken from around 1975?
If Copyrighted then you cannot distribute them. If not, then once scanned
they can easily be placed on a DVD and sold at a fee to cover your costs and