Are particular old photos in the public domain?

Two specific pictures of Bertrand Russell and Lala Har Dayal are posted on a half a dozen websites — while using Google search only. Are these pictures in a free domain for use without any infringement? Russell died at least 40 years ago and Har Dayal 70 years. The pictures are to be used on the cover of a general history book.

Satish C. Bhatnagar on June 1, 2012

This depends on when the pictures were published and in what country you wish to publish them. Wikipedia has a photo of Russel published in 1916 and a photo of Har Dayal from the early 1900s. Both are then probably in the public domain in the U.S., which is the case for photos published before 1923. This may also be true in India, where, according to Wikipedia, “as of 2012, works published prior to 1 January 1952 are considered public domain.”

public domain

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