Copyright and Charles Ginner’s ‘Orphan Works’

You may be surprised to know that we don’t have the copyright holder’s permission to publish any of the images featured in this blog post. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years after the artist’s death, so these paintings by Isaac Charles Ginner (1878-1952) will remain in copyright until December 2022.
The reason we’re able to show them now is because they’re all ‘orphan works’, which means that the rights holders are unknown or cannot be traced, and we’ve recently been granted a seven-year licence to use the works by the government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Copyright law helps artists and their descendants to control how their work is used, and also allows them to make money from it, by licensing it out for public use. Anyone who copies a work of art, or publishes it in print or online, must first seek permission from the copyright holder or they commit an infringement of copyright and risk being sued for damages.

What is an Orphan Work?

In October 2014 the IPO launched a new Orphan Works Licensing Scheme in an attempt to give wider public access to millions of creative works. At the same time this protects any rights holders who might come forward at a later date by promising to compensate them.

Applicants must provide evidence of exercising ‘due diligence’ in trying to trace any rights holders, to assure the IPO that all reasonable efforts have been made prior to them issuing a licence.

Many well-known galleries and institutions have tried, unsuccessfully, to trace the heirs to Ginner’s estate, and we could not shed any new light on the matter. He is a well-known artist represented in numerous large public collections (such as Tate and the National Portrait Gallery) yet nobody has ever come forward making any claims on his estate.

How does the licence work?


Our licence cost 10p per work plus a £34 application fee, and was the first under the new scheme to be granted for works of fine art in the ‘still images’ category (which also includes photographs). It allows Leeds Museums and Galleries to use images of Ginner’s paintings in the UK in the following non-commercial ways:
• In live events or exhibitions, including publishing in free handouts
• In any of our newsletters, bulletins or promotional material, either in print or online (for instance this blog!)
• On our social media platforms
• For educational purposes, including any related learning or training material produced.

Another work by Ginner in our collection wasn’t included in the Orphan Works application because it is already in the public domain: Royal Ordnance Stores (c.1943) was commissioned by the government’s War Artists’ Advisory Committee and subject to Crown Copyright (which lasts for 50 years after creation, and therefore expired in 1993).

‘Royal Ordnance Stores’, oil on canvas, by Isaac Charles Ginner.
Work in the public domain, donated by the War Artists’ Advisory
Committee, 1947. Photo © Leeds Museums and Galleries.
When our Collections Online site is launched, all the Ginner paintings will be proudly, and legally, displayed alongside thousands of other objects, artworks and artefacts from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collections.

The Orphan Works Register lists all applications and licences granted. Anyone with information that might help to trace rights holders of Orphan Works is encouraged to contact the IPO.
Images from top: ‘Leeds’, oil painting, 1914; ‘The Circus’, oil on canvas, 1913; ‘Penally Bridge, Boscastle’, oil on canvas, 1915-1947. All works are by Isaac Charles Ginner (1878-1952). Images displayed under IPO Orphan Works licence no. OWLS000005, see: Photos © Leeds Museums and Galleries
 By Alison Glew, Copyright Project Officer

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