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File:Grace Kelly - High Society.jpg



English: Studio publicity portrait for the film High Society
Date 1956
Author Studio publicity still MGM
( Reusing this file)



Public domain This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. Unless its author has been dead for the required period, it is copyrighted in the countries or areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works, such as Canada (50 pma), Mainland China (50 pma, not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany (70 pma), Mexico (100 pma), Switzerland (70 pma), and other countries with individual treaties. See Commons:Hirtle chart for further explanation.

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Copyright details

Further information: w:Film still

Additional source information:

This is a publicity photo taken to promote a film actor. As stated by film production expert Eve Light Honathaner in The Complete Film Production Handbook, (Focal Press, 2001 p. 211.):

"Publicity photos have traditionally not been copyrighted. Since they are disseminated to the public, they are generally considered public domain, and therefore clearance by the studio that produced them is not necessary."

Creative Clearance offers similar advice for older publicity stills but distinguishes "Publicity Photos (star headshots)" from "Production Stills (photos taken on the set of the film or TV show during the shooting)". It says newer publicity stills may contain a copyright, and production stills "must be cleared with the studio."

Nancy Wolff, includes a similar explanation:

Legal expert on the use of photographic images, Nancy Wolff, includes a similar explanation:

There is a vast body of photographs, including but not limited to publicity stills, that have no notice as to who may have created them. . .(The Professional Photographer's Legal Handbook By Nancy E. Wolff, Allworth Communications, 2007, p. 55.)

These photographs came from a photo archive of entertainment industry publicity pictures, historic still images widely distributed by the studios to advertise and promote their then new releases. While not considered valuable at the time, avid collectors have created complete archives by salvaging and cataloging movie and television photographs, preserving a significant facet of American culture. These archives are a valuable cache for publishers who rely on these archives as a resource for entertainment material."

Film industry author Gerald Mast, in Film Study and the Copyright Law (1989) p. 87, writes:

Film industry expert Gerald Mast explains how the new 1989 copyright revisions only protected publicity works that complied with all earlier requirements in addition to filing a copyright registration within 5 years of first publication:

"According to the old copyright act, such production stills were not automatically copyrighted as part of the film and required separate copyrights as photographic stills. The new copyright act similarly excludes the production still from automatic copyright but gives the film's copyright owner a five-year period in which to copyright the stills. Most studios have never bothered to copyright these stills because they were happy to see them pass into the public domain, to be used by as many people in as many publications as possible."

Kristin Thompson, committee chairperson of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies writes in the conclusion of a 1993 conference with cinema scholars and editors, that they "expressed the opinion that it is not necessary for authors to request permission to reproduce frame enlargements. . . [and] some trade presses that publish educational and scholarly film books also take the position that permission is not necessary for reproducing frame enlargements and publicity photographs."


  1. Honathaner, Eve Light. The Complete Film Production Handbook, Focal Press, (2001) p. 211
  2. Creative Clearance. Photography Clearance. Clearance Guidelines for Producers. Retrieved on 4 May 2011.
  3. Wolff, Nancy E. The Professional Photographer's Legal Handbook, Allworth Communications, 2007 p. 55
  4. Mast, Gerald. "Film Study and the Copyright Law", from Cinema Journal, Winter 2007, pp. 120-127
  5. Thompson, Kristin. "Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Society For Cinema Studies, "Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills" "Society for Cinema and Media Studies", 1993 conference
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