How to move in period clothing

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Post Centurion
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Post by Sophia »

To clarify (as someone who used to buy rights for broadcast).

Written Works

Copyright is lifetime plus 70 years from date of death for works published in authors lifetime. Posthumous works are 70 years from date of publication - copyright belonging to author's heirs (or in some cases owners of document - particularly with historical documents). Permission must be sought for any sort of publication (including a translation where often the translator must be approved). Costs depend on the author and the publication, there are provisions in the Copyright, Patent and Design Act 1988 and subsequent Statutory Instruments for use of quotes in critical or academic contexts.


A similar set of rules applies to images (not my specialist area). Most importantly with older works you should remember that though the image itself is out of copyright, you must obtain permission to copy it from the physical owners (i.e. NPG, etc) if you intend to publish. In the case of photographic reproductions of old images most galleries have their own library of images which are the only ones you can publish and you must pay the licence fee they require.

Recordings (Audio and Visual)

A real nightmare - You have a whole series of right involved here.

a) Copyright in the physical recording (can't remember exactly how long and know it has changed recently)

b) Copyright in the performance (again has changed recently and is different for presenters, actors and musicians due to different unions).

c) Copyright in any music/lyrics

d) Copyright in any other text involved, dramatic script, factual script, indeed quotes from any other work in context of original recording will have to be re-cleared if you intend to use them.

Ownership of these rights varies - again you best place to start is with the publishing company of the recording (i.e. record or video recording). If it is something you have recorded yourself from TV/Radio then contact the Broadcaster/Production Company in question.

What does this mean to re-enactors:

In general you can make brief quotes from written works (with full references) but any substantial stuff you might wish to incorporate in a published work (print or web) must be cleared. Best place to start is with the publisher (beware nested rights).

For Images and Audio-Visual please, please contact the source before you publish or event worse try to sell (many people believe WWII material is all out of copyright it is not - some of sections of it can still be well within the time limit).

The best place to start is with the Rights/Licencing department of the different organisations mentioned.

Messing this up can be an expensive mistake as we used to occasionally have to explain to artistic types at a former employers who were trying to understand why they were presented with a large bill their budget wasn't prepared for.

If any body does need any help I would be happy to oblige but would stress that I am not an Intellectual Property lawyer per se and have not done this professionally for about 7 years.

Sophia :D

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Absolute Wizard
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Post by gregory23b »

Some of those images are dover sourced, credited too and IIRC are from royalty free dover books.

Sophia, I may have need of your services, I will pm you.
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Tamsin Lewis
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Post by Tamsin Lewis »

You're right, Sophia. I used to work in a picture library. There is one way around the need to get the image from the physical owners (V&A/npg/BM/whatever) If you can find a source for the image that is more than 70 years old (old postcard/book/print) then that is reproducable without problems.
Otherwise legally you should contact the owners of the image and pay their fee for using the image.
With Dover, it's worth checking the book as not all Dover books are copyright free.
If it's a photograph then it belongs to the photographer (not the person photographed) until 70 years after their death.

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Alice the Huswyf
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Post by Alice the Huswyf »

I'm a housewife. If you think my nit-picking is bad, you should see my net curtain twitching!

Dover pictorial sources books state an allowance of the use of up to 10 images without seeking permission - but this is not a pictorial source book. This re-issue is 1996.

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Alan E
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Post by Alan E »

"full gown and kirtle"
According to 'A History of Private Life' (Georges Duby Ed.) "A woman at home, no matter what her station, was likely to wear a gonnella (fourteenth century) or a gamurra (fifteenth century, also known in Lombardy as a zupa); it was a simple wool tunic with sleeves (which after 1450, were removable), worn over the camicia, a long chemise of linen or cotton. So dressed she would go about her household chores and even run errands or make informal visits in the neighbourhood. In cold weather a cloak was added. But the moment one left the private realm to be seen by the outside world, the gamurra ceased to be appropriate..."

Now admittedly this is in a section about "Tuscan Notables on the Eve of the Renaissance", but would non-noble women in the rest of Europe (or the UK) have really afforded to wear more about the household? Arguably in a LH camp, one is en famillia and would not normally be wearing the 'full monty'.

Arguments I have seen on this thread and elsewhere appear to draw mostly on the evidence of pictures, but there is surely some idealisation in any such source: What about evidence from (for example) wills and household accounts? How many gowns (compared to kirtles) would a cook or launderess or seamstress actually own? Would she really be wearing one all day?

Personally, I doubt it, but hey ... any evidence?
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Alice the Huswyf
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Post by Alice the Huswyf »

It is a matter of usage and decency - until 50 years ago even charwomen wouldn't walk down the street without a hat on.

It is a matter of practicality - for warmth and to protect your clothing when working and your respectability when out.

I think you are referring to the italian equivalent of a house coat, which is an all over apron, which of course you would remove when going out. Also bear in mind that what the Italians were up to at this point has very little to do with what northern Europeans were following or wearing.

All women would own a gown unless utterley destitute: how else does one keep warm? Women of all stations are shown wearing two layers unless carrying out very hot or wet physical work - like cooking or washing (or whoring). Exceptions that are show are french peasants dancing in what looks like a kirtle with a white layer - and therefore assumed to be a shift - underneath. However there are two practical arguments against this layer being a shift: an ankle length shift is impractical in wear as it gets in the way and wicks up moisture if long - very uncomfortable. In one or more drawing they are extended with an eased straight strip. Why extend a shift if it is impractical in wear? However you would extend an under-dress for decency and so that you do not look impoverished. So in these drawings I strongly suggest you are looking at an underdress of undyed wool, as in other pictures you see the same effect with a coloured underdress.

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