Tutankhamun dig images – who owns what?

By January 18, 2019 Will Carleton

Often asked this one here at the Press Photo History project: How do I license Tutankhamun tomb opening images?

Photographer Harry Burton shot the most memorable images Carter’s discovery, he was there for the Met in NY. The Times (who part sponsored the dig) had their own photographer Bill Warhurst at the event.

The Times are unable to syndicate/license the Burton images, they had their own photographer called Warhurst covering the event. The Burton prints you have were probably initially sent to all newspapers and photo agencies by the Met Museum (who were funded Harry in Egypt at that time) for general syndication to their publication clients….so, before the prints left the building the newspaper or photo agency would stamp the back for future reference as many publications kept prints in their own libraries to reuse and re license in the future and would then return to the Times for clearance. The Tutankhamun story ran for years, as you know. 

I believe the Met in NY now hold any license to Harry’s images and you should inquire about usage here https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/policies-and-documents/image-resources

It looks like the Griffiths also have some ownership here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44636774

Although a reader reports the Griffiths do not own the copyright on Harry’s ‘press images’ so, were these given out asa an all rounder at he time, like pool photos, to gain maximum exposure for the event?

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