I found a roll of camera film in a box of old cameras purchased second-hand at a thrift store. I'm interested in having it developed. However, I'm concerned as to what might happen if there were to be any form of contraband images discovered on the roll of film. Due to it being from a thrift store, I do not have a receipt showing my purchase of it.

Would I be potentially liable if anything illegal were to show up on the film after it was developed? Are there any copyright issues involved in developing film that is not mine?

Would it be better not to risk it and simply dispose of the roll?


Copyright almost certainly exists in the images, since presumably someone took those pictures and so they would own the copyright of those images. However, that doesn't mean you don't own the film, you just that don't own the copyright. You can have it developed to see what's there without copying the images. Just tell the developer you only want the film developed and for no prints to be made.

If there's child pornography you could end up in a lot of hot water. While you'd be innocent of any crime, if the developer reports the images to the police you'll have to convince them that you had no idea what was on the film. It's extremely unlikely that there's anything untoward on the film however.

I'd note however that unless the film is only a couple years old then it's likely the pictures have faded significantly. If it's ten or more years old, there might not be anything recognizable.

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