Kevin, Bob Farmers input is sound.
Sounds like you believe you have things worked out now, but my suggestion would have been to let the museums legal counsel worry about this. They deal with this issue regularly. Very generally speaking, unless (i) you created a copyrightable work or (ii) you received a written assignment of copyright in connection with your acquisition of the copyrighted item, you dont own the copyright.
the Larry wrote:Not quite true. Unpublished material can be copyrighted anytime later. There is no cut-off date. If the photo was never published it can be copyrighted now.
Under current U.S. copyright law, thats not quite true either. If one creates a copyrightable work, the copyright is secured automatically the moment the work is created and
documented in some manner. Documentation occurs the moment ones work is capable of being retrieved; in other words, when you make a copy of your work. Copies are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. So whether or not a work has been published has virtually nothing to do with establishment of copyrights.
Some things to keep in mind under current U.S. copyright laws:
1. You dont have to publish your work in order to secure a copyright.
2. You dont have to register your creation with any government agency to secure a copyright.
3. You dont have to insert any kind of copyright notice (e.g., ) into your work to secure a copyright.
4. You dont have to send a copy of your work to any government agency to secure a copyright. That said, the Copyright Act still requires that copyright owners deposit with the Copyright Office two copies of the copyrighted work within three months of its publication in the United States; but the failure to do so does not affect copyright protection.