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Thread: A bit of an odd one... Getting the rights to use an old map

  1. #1

    Help A bit of an odd one... Getting the rights to use an old map

    Hi there,

    My name's Jessica Holland and I work for a video production company called FLETCHERWILSON. We're currently in the process of making an independent documentary movie called Driven. It's a rather special love story told through two road trips that happen 50 years apart in the same 1930's London taxi cab. If you have the time there's a website here with more info:


    Onto my actual question! - My query is into an old map we've acquired that we'd like to use in the movie. We're aware that Weber Costello Publishers are no longer in business but we'd still very much like to get permission somehow to use the map in our film. So essentially i'm posting here to see if anyone could offer some insight into how we'd go about finding who has the rights to this map, if anyone, and then getting permission to use it in our film. I've attached a picture of the map showing its publishing details. I'm not even sure if this is an appropriate place to post but any help you'd be able to give me would be great as I've really got no clue where to start!

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some insight!
    Jessica Holland

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  2. #2
    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    No idea but a bit of googling for you got me this:
    Weber Costello Company

  3. #3


    Seeing as the original company was a 'publisher' and the current company is a stationary company, it may be that the publishing division was acquired by a larger publisher and their sourcing division was not part of the merge and was allowed to retained the name. If that is the case, any rights to the map should belong to the company that acquired the publisher. I would double check the copyright date on the map and consult with a copyright lawyer. Depending on the year of the copyright, the period covered varies. As I recall, anything published before the 1930's under copyright is now public domain unless the copyright was subsequently reinstated.

    Your best bet is a lawyer, but knowing what became of the intellectual property rights of the publisher would save you time and money on that consult.

  4. #4


    The Evolution of Weber Costello, Part 1 (Holbrook)

    As it turns out, Webber Costello Co. was a school supply company, and the stationary company is one and the same. They stopped making maps and globes.

    Cynic that I am, I suspect they did not own the rights to the maps and globes they published, but were simply copying and/or reprinting. In the day they got started, most publishing in the U.S. was basically public domain, and that they were being made for educational purposes, even for profit, limited fair-use would have protected them.

  5. #5
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    Nov 2009


    You might also try a Google Image search using a shot of the map and see if any official sights have it up. At which point they either have the rights or received permission from someone. Unless of course they are acting illegally themselves.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  6. #6
    Guild Expert jbgibson's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Alabama, USA


    If it's not the Weber Costello map per se that you are drawn to, but that exact *style*, you could investigate commissioning an original map of the same style. We are generally a community of fantasy mappers, but some of us work in atlas / wall chart / reference map styles, and some do current era work -- if intrigued by the project someone here (or other map/ art fora) could free you from a frustrating copyright search.

    What is the size and subject of your original, and what use do you figure on putting it to? If you wish to have closeup shots placing your scenes in a geographic setting, or tracing characters' progress, one might not need a full wall map at full resolution - your areas of interest could suffice, with a lower resolution stand-in for long shots. If you intend to zoom in and out of the map seamlessly, yes, an entire map is what you need. If your characters need a physical prop to be shown consulting, is your one copy even enough? There, repro rights to an original work could be a safety net.

    How certain are you that alternate publishers (easier to contact) might not suit your purposes as well?

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