Image Licencing

I feel compelled to have a small rant and I hope you will forgive me. I have just had an exchange of emails with a certain popular newspaper. This exchange (which was perfectly civil I hasten to add) concerned my desire to licence a photograph for use in my next book.

The outrageous cost of image licencing is something I have encountered before where many bodies charge three figure sums for a picture that only covers half a page. The bizarre thing is that pricing is partly driven by the percentage of space the image takes on the page rather than the size of the image itself. This means that a full page picture in a book whose pages are close to A5 would cost more than a half page picture in a book whose pages are close to A4 (even though the size of the image would be the same).

I was quoted £200 to have my chosen picture occupy a full page. The place where I get confused is that I am sure that photographs only enjoy copyright of 50 years from the time they are taken. The picture in question was taken in 1907 so this has definitely expired. Why therefore can I not just scan and use it?

Are there any copyright experts out there that can answer that one?

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