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Similar, but not copied, image found to breach copyright

By Richard Butler on Jan 25, 2012 at 02:52 GMT

Amateur Photographer magazine has published an interesting story about a copyright infringement case of similar, but not directly copied, images. The issue of copyright is thorny, contentious and often misunderstood but this case sheds some light on the current attitude of courts in the UK. Despite significant differences between the two images (there was no implication that the second image was a duplicate of the first), the court found that the second image copied substantially from the 'intellectual creation' of the first (that is the elements that can be protected by copyright in the original image, including a consideration of the composition, lighting and processing of the image).

Amateur Photographer quotes photographic copyright expert Charles Swan as saying: 'The judgement should be studied by anyone imitating an existing photograph or commissioning a photograph based on a similar photograph.'

Meanwhile, Jane Lambert - a barrister specialising in intellectual property law - has written an excellent blog post on the case, in which she concludes 'although I follow the logic I feel very uneasy at Judge Birss's decision in Temple Island. It seems to come very close to protecting copyright in an idea as opposed to expression.'

The judge concluded that the claimant (Justin Fielder)'s image is original and that the intellectual creation resided both in the compositional elements of the image and the contrast aspects. Specifically, Judge Birss QC highlighted two visual contrasts: 'one between the bright red bus and the monochrome background, and the other between the blank white sky and the rest of the photograph.'

He also took into account the evidence that Mr Houghton was aware of Mr Fielder's image (the two had previously been to court when they had failed to reach a licensing agreement over Houghton's previous infringement of Fielder's copyright), to conclude the similarities were causally related.

In the end, Birss  said a difficult decision hinged on a 'qualitative assessment of the reproduced elements.' He defined Fielder's image a 'photographic work,' as distinct from a simply a photograph, in that 'its appearance is the product of deliberate choices and also deliberate manipulations by the author,' and concluded that those aspects had been copied.

Judge Birss also said that a series of images showing buses on Westminster Bridge and of red London icons on monochrome backgrounds submitted by Houghton 'worked against them because the collection has served to emphasize how different ostensibly independent expressions of the same idea actually look.'

Justin Fielder's copyright in his image (top) was deemed to have been infringed by
Nick Houghton's image (bottom).

Comments

Total comments: 738
34567
MostlyHarmless
By MostlyHarmless (Jan 25, 2012)

Surely the fact that they 'are 'photographs' is a a distraction? If company A uses product packaging that is similar to company B's- say similar enough to be 'casually confused', then, potentially, company A might have a case? Even if they were drawn in crayon? Even if company B (possibly cynically) tried to make it 'just dissimilar enough'?

All the reductio ad absurdum statements that 'that means nobody else can take pictures of Easter Island statues', or 'I claim copyright on all pictures of Wombats' are just, well, absurd:-)

0 upvotes
kg56
By kg56 (Jan 25, 2012)

Looks like a decision to support the Western world’s greatest growth industry; litigation and the rise of the lawyer. That’s what we all need more lawyers and litigation. That will solve all our woes!

6 upvotes
lettingg0
By lettingg0 (Jan 25, 2012)

seriously, do the courts not have anything better to do. It is a photograph! they both have buildings and a red bus.... people are living in cars and going hungry and someone is worried that someone copied their photo. Just when you think...

0 upvotes
cdlm
By cdlm (Jan 25, 2012)

Brand infringement, I would understand, but copyright is ridiculous.

Should Avatar pay up to Dance with Wolves because the plot is similar?

0 upvotes
phototransformations
By phototransformations (Jan 25, 2012)

I suppose if Avatar had actually involved Native Americans instead of aliens, in the same physical setting, Kevin Costner would have had a pretty good case. Sylvester Stallone was successfully sued by the guy whose life story he copied in Rocky, and there have been other, similar cases where the copied party won.

http://www.hecklerspray.com/stallone-settles-rocky-lawsuit-with-67-year-old-brawler/20064350.php

0 upvotes
Banana Chips™
By Banana Chips™ (Jan 25, 2012)

No, Avatar should pay up to the moviegoers because it's a terrible movie...but I digress...

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Jan 25, 2012)

Conservatives hate Avatar because they hate people that want to protect the planet.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 25, 2012)

Thomas Berger and Conrad Richter preceded both movies with stories about people raised by aboriginal Americans. R. Heinlein wrote of a guy raised by Martians. Kipling, borrowing from old tales, told of a boy raised by animals. Romulus and Remus were raised by wolves, or so the legend goes. That story was certainly not the first of its sort, either.

All stories are more or less derivatives of earlier stories. What tale of love, crime, or adventure doesn't have redundant precursors? Anything perfectly original is almost certain to befuddle, bore, or fail. Audiences would snore, flee, or register a blank, "Huh?"

0 upvotes
mike kobal
By mike kobal (Jan 25, 2012)

very controversial verdict, however I can understand it to a certain degree, the same subject matter, similar composition AND the exact same technique,probably the deciding factor for the judge's ruling

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
mike kobal
By mike kobal (Jan 25, 2012)

to clarify and what I really meant to say but ran out of time edting...
very controversial and idiotic verdict in this context, we are looking at a scene tourists have, are and will photograph millions of times, though I can understand -to a certain degree-how the judge "got there", subject, very similar composition AND the exact same technique applied, however, if this would be a famous professional photograph using a model with a "certain look", wearing a particular Dolce&Gabana outfit, standing in front of a brick wall, distinctively processed, and photographer B would now decide to copy all the elements, I would agree with the judge

1 upvote
Phill Luppus
By Phill Luppus (Jan 25, 2012)

confusing me a bit, cos
this effect can be easily done with a plugin,
the picture can be taken daily by many artistic photographers,
the composition can be created by as evenso many artists,
this written without any insulting meanings towards both
artists and readers, so

is there a difference between proffesionalism and hobbiests concerning legal actions?

0 upvotes
Earthlight
By Earthlight (Jan 25, 2012)

I hope this goes through all the way to the highest court. This ruling will have massive repercussions...

2 upvotes
JonB1975
By JonB1975 (Jan 25, 2012)

Is it me or has the bus been photoshopped into the bottom image?

It's to be too small (compare it to the people further down the bridge!) and badly done any way (Though that could be the quality of the image on my screen)

0 upvotes
RKGoth
By RKGoth (Jan 25, 2012)

Read the ruling. it explains it all, and yes, it was photoshopped.

0 upvotes
Prixnobeldefoot
By Prixnobeldefoot (Jan 25, 2012)

I'm sure hundreds of similar pictures are taken every day by Canon Ixus owners. Coupling the two symbols of London , how original !

1 upvote
MadsR
By MadsR (Jan 25, 2012)

Both good and bad this... Reading the verdict, it seems to be more about the way this was done, than the actual picture.

I don't like that it is being put as a copyright verdict, that gives legitimate copyright a bad name. It is a case of dishonest business, and should be treated as such.

0 upvotes
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as "dishonest business law". When a company tries to use your photo without paying (as they did), and then creates a very similar photo (again so they don't have to pay you for the original), that's clearly a copyright issue.

1 upvote
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

That's not a copyright issue anymore, DiscreteCosine, because they created their own work. They're not copying your work anymore. No issues. That's why the ruling is absurd.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
1 upvote
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Jan 25, 2012)

May be the guy was jealous. The "similar" is much cleaner. Less cluttered and better composition.

3 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

in the end that means we can copyright ideas or better say compositions... right?

and i have to go to court twice.... so i can say the other guy is stealing my ideas on purpose?

well that is not to problematic i think.
i sure will find a random photographer who makes similiar photos then me and sue him/her a few times.....

and how can he prove beyond doubt that he does not know my pictures... he? after i sued him/her the first time he sure knows me.... LOL

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jan 25, 2012)

The last paragraph of the article says they showed many other similar examples in their own defence, which the judge says worked against them because it showed how much different they all were and so how closely they actually copied this other fellow's image when they photoshopped their own.

0 upvotes
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

But they didn't copy the image. The judge is confusing copying an image with copying a photoshop technique and the idea of the bus being red and such. The judge is mistaken.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jan 25, 2012)

"Similar, but not copied, image found to breach copyright"

So that would be similarright then?

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jan 25, 2012)

This sucks! There's no art at the top image. There's nothing to protect.

0 upvotes
Nonns
By Nonns (Jan 25, 2012)

These two people had previously been to court over other photographic copyright issues.

There are most probably reasonable grounds to assume that the two were well aware of each others photography and thus however well intentioned or otherwise could well have been creatively influenced by one another.

One has to wonder whether the courts decision would have been the same if the two were not aware of each others work and had never previously been to court to dispute IP.

If not then one has to wonder what this means for photography. Who took the first photo of Dawn at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley on a clear blue day? Who took the first picture of a BA 747 at Heathrow? Folks you only get one shot at any point on earth. As for myself, I think I'm going out to shoot the front of every house on my street because assuming I can get in there before the estate agents in the area I reckon I can clean up as they would be using my ideas to make money without paying me for them.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

again:

well i don´t know why it matters who made this photo?
i don´t know why it matters that these two guys had problems before?

the idea is not uniqe... period.

one guy decided to make a photo he has seen before...

the other guys sees his photo and decides to make a similiar photo?

and?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Charlie boots
By Charlie boots (Jan 25, 2012)

I have read the judgement, which is very interesting, and it seems the judge has overly complicated the issue with the detailed technical and background analysis.

Whilst it is good to site prcedent ect the point of simply comparing the images has, in my view, been missed.

Yes they are of the same subjects and have been rendered in similiar tones and yes the is a red bus but there the similiarity ends.

I personally do not see how judgement could have been awarded to the claimant.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

So they are of the same subject, from the same angle, processed in the same way (clouds erased from the sky, saturation increased on the bus, background made monochrome), and the second photo was made by someone who had seen (and tried to use) the first photo, but you think there aren't enough similarities...?

1 upvote
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

Photo Copyright has to do with copying the photo that someone else took, not the technique used on it. Those techniques are used all the time in photoshop. Those techniques are not copyrightable. Only the photo is. The idea of photographing buses is also not copyrightable. It has to be a facsimile or partial facsimile to be a violation. I feel like the judge is commenting on the case in here.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (Jan 25, 2012)

I think the ruling is pretty shaky. Anyone who paints a half smiling woman will make Mona Lisa jealous? Don't even bring your camera to Yosemite--Adams has photographic rights to the park? Dude!

0 upvotes
Carlos AF Costa
By Carlos AF Costa (Jan 25, 2012)

Oops, the last time I was in London I took a picture much like, you know that Big Ben is always there and red buses are always going forward and the side.
Please notify the tourists
d’ ont be silly

0 upvotes
boudro_
By boudro_ (Jan 25, 2012)

Imagine if they started doing this with music. that would be the end of auto-tune

0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Jan 25, 2012)

There are ample grounds for an appeal. A successful one.
What about all the books with similar plot lines? What about our good "guardians of the copyright" Hollywood friends with all the remakes of every single movie ever made? Should the producers of "La Totale" sue the producers of "True Lies" ? Yes, apparently, if we are to believe the above judge.

0 upvotes
RicohGRDIV
By RicohGRDIV (Jan 25, 2012)

Doesn't look like a copy or close copy to me...

1 upvote
D1N0
By D1N0 (Jan 25, 2012)

Intellectual Property is a contradiction in terms. Nothing intellectual about it. Idea Hogging. That's what it should be called.

2 upvotes
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 25, 2012)

Look on Google and see if you can ID who the claimant copied the initial idea from.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

i think from me..... but then... i stole it from someone else.... ;)

0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Jan 25, 2012)

Everybody studying the case, should notice that the judge ruled that to ask any independent photographer to shoot a red Routemaster bus on Westminster in front of B&W Parliament would *not* have infringed the copyright.

Moreover, the decision makes reference to EU and Austrian ruling and is of significance for EU ruling, not UK alone.

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

well i don´t know why it matters who made this photo?

the idea is not uniqe... period.

one guy decided to make a photo he has seen before...

the other guys sees his photo and decides to make a similiar photo?

and?

Comment edited 15 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
RKGoth
By RKGoth (Jan 25, 2012)

"one guy decided to make a photo he has seen before..."

One of the crucial points in the judgement is that the claimant's evidence is that they have NOT seen such an image before. And as they are under oath, one has to assume they are telling the truth unless it can be proven otherwise.

They do admit to have taken inspiration from the film Schindler's List, but it is entirely reasonable to think that they have not seen a picture of that type of bus, on that bridge, in front of that building, given that treatment and thus felt they were creating something original.

0 upvotes
Andreas Stuebs
By Andreas Stuebs (Jan 25, 2012)

May I offer a difference in opinion: The point made is, that the original picture is well known and almost iconic in terms of London tourists attractions. The defendant set out - or so it was jufged - to create an image for commercial purposes which was sufficiently similar to the original to use thepopularity of the image without actually infringing on it. So it was intended as a copy without actually being a copy. So the judgement was made against the intent more than againt the actual image.
Yes, I have been to Yosemity, and yes I did take a photograph of half dome with a 4x5 field camera, but no I never tried to recreate any image AA made. So in terms of the judgement I did not commit a copyright infringement.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

well this images is not as close to an half dome photo made from the same vantage point.

and it is not his idea.. it was made a million times before.
he is not even 0,00001% of an ansel adams.

he just choose to make an "idea" others had before him.... into an advertising.

1 upvote
gepe
By gepe (Jan 25, 2012)

Having just read a news article reviewing the case it seems to me that the issue is NOT about the popped image but about the use of the image for maketing a commercial. One company has used the Red Bus design in the marketing material for there products (not sure wish) whilst the defendant was using the same Red Bus concept in a marketing design for their own products (Tea).
Bottom line is that this is all because of getting the most out of the rush for Olympics memorabilia sales!

Just greed.

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

of course it´s just greed.

look at apple... they sue everyone because they are a greedy company. look who builds their iphones etc. workslaves...

it´s nonsense to protect such images. it´s nothing special.

and who cares if they use nearly the same photo for advertising?
it is not the SAME photo. not even close.

if they want something uniqe then they should create somethink unique and never seen before.....

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Jan 25, 2012)

Everything with an electronic chip inside is built by workslaves nowadays.
We, the consumer public we should stop wanting more product for less money, especially when the reduction in price comes solely from outsourcing to places where child labor is commonplace.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

you are right poss.. but some companys are worse then others.

0 upvotes
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (Jan 25, 2012)

If anyone ever wants to know the definition of Slippery Slope, show them this case.

Imatation is the sincerest form of flattery except in this case, the imitation was way better and I think that bugged Mr. Fielder.

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

".....Amateur Photographer quotes photographic copyright expert Charles Swan as saying: 'The judgement should be studied by anyone imitating an existing photograph or commissioning a photograph based on a similar photograph...."

you have been warned!!!

no portraits with window light from the left or i sue your a$$!!!

do a google search before making images!!!!

hell we need more lawyers.... that will be a wave when we all go to court.

in fact i just patented a camera with internal search and compare function (you need internet connection to google or bing).
the shutter will not work when the image was made before by someone else.
it´s just to protect you from violating copyright!!!!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
AshMills
By AshMills (Jan 25, 2012)

I think people should read the article properly before commenting.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

we have.. but you should start thinking before commenting....

5 upvotes
danaceb
By danaceb (Jan 25, 2012)

IP laws have gone completely insane in the anglosphere.

1 upvote
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 25, 2012)

The court even admitted that the defendant had gone out of his way to avoid infringing the copyright of the claimant.

Fairly ridiculous as with a quick google image search, I found at least another 8 different images showing a red London bus in front of a BW Houses of Parliament.

1 upvote
AndyGM
By AndyGM (Jan 25, 2012)

Yup, this is Prior art, that I found via Google Images

http://www.worldgallery.co.uk/poster/London---Big-Ben,-Bus-and-Taxi-410493.html

and this

http://www.themarkettown.com/market-shop/big-ben-canvas-print.html

and this is a Painting from 1957, before the claimant was probably even born, which is the exact same compositional idea

http://www.clydecoastgraphics.com/photo_2656025.html

This judgement is ridiculous. Then again, most UK High Court Judges are renowned for being detached from reality...

0 upvotes
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

None of those images has a white sky, none of them is taken from the same angle or has the bus in the same place (in all of them the bus is directly under Big Ben), and in two out of the three, the background isn't even monochrome.

It's pretty obvious you didn't read the ruling, but I have to wonder if you even looked at the photos.

Read the ruling (link at the top). The tea company was clearly trying to copy the first photo; they didn't just hire a photographer to take a photo of famous landmarks, they spent 80 hours of their own time taking photos and processing them to reproduce the look of the original photo, which they had already tried to use without permission (and been forced to pay royalties for, in 2011).

1 upvote
QuentinUK
By QuentinUK (Jan 26, 2012)

http://www.clydecoastgraphics.com/photo_2656025.html

Not from 1957, but 1957 is part of the title of the photo as its in the style of 1957.

0 upvotes
gepe
By gepe (Jan 25, 2012)

I think this case needs serius review by the Law Courts without there having to be another case to establish a 'precedent'.
The Judge is refering in his asessment of the claim for infringement to the use a a photographic style - 'popping' - which has been around from the earliest times of digital photography and is taught as a process in many photographic courses. This makes it in the public domain and belonging to nobody.
With the many millions of photographers there are in the world and the standardisation of the digital photographic process both in camera and via the digital darkroom plug in filters and themes it is impossible for any one person to claim the right to any one photographic image style.
This judge is saying that only one man has the right to produce popped images on a desaturerated background.
My two penny worth.

1 upvote
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

Why do you come here and post exactly the opposite of what the ruling says?

The judge specifically mentions that popping is a common technique and cannot by itself be used to uphold the plaintiff's copyright.

Here's the exact quote from the ruling:

"The technique of highlighting an iconic object like a bus against a black and white image is not unique to Mr Fielder (he did not suggest that it was). The Granta Books image (p16) shows an image which pre-dates Mr Fielder."

So how can you say that "this judge is saying that only one man has the right to produce popped images on a desaturerated [sic] background"...?

Oh, and it's been done since long before "digital photography". In fact, it's been done since before there was even colour photography (by painting a specific element with transparent ink).

Seriously, people, go read the ruling and stop posting nonsense and misinformation.

1 upvote
Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Jan 25, 2012)

Do not see how this can be sustained and will be overruled on appeal, time will tell.

0 upvotes
Tamaro
By Tamaro (Jan 25, 2012)

Another time (take a look at big-ben), different composition, another bus :) not a copy, just similiar photo.
Now everybody who make a black&white photo of some mountains will be a Ansel Adams copy thief? Or i will never make a photo of full moon with tele-objectiv coz someone made that before me?

3 upvotes
Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (Jan 25, 2012)

Hey, here's the crux of the matter ;
"He also took into account the evidence that Mr Houghton was aware of Mr Fielder's image (the two had previously been to court when they had failed to reach a licensing agreement over Houghton's previous infringement of Fielder's copyright), to conclude the similarities were causally related."

So on the surface the result is ridiculous, but looking close it seems he deliverately copied the 'style' and now he's been nabbed a second time.
You live and learn.

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

as i wrote.... so no picture in yosemite national park anymore... im sure most know ansel adams.....

yeah sure.. makes sense.....

1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 25, 2012)

not so fast OP. None of us develops our style or composition in isolation. Of course there is a 'causal' relationship if you are inspired by any of the classic sunset photos you have seen and try to recreate something with the same inspiration yourself. Likewise any picture-postcard shot of a popular London tourist spot.

Just like it was acknowledged, the plaintiff himself effectively stood in the shoes of previous tourists - he explicitly sought out a location where the same picture had been taken by millions of tourists before him.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
doctor digi
By doctor digi (Jan 25, 2012)

Some people on here just like to look at the pretty pictures and can't read. I agree with the judge given that Photographer No 2 went out of his way to copy Photographer No 1, having already done so previously and lost the case. If this hadn't happened then I think there would be no case to answer and the judge would have made the opposite decision.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

and?

how many people saw pictures of ansel adams "half dome".. and went out to took the same picture?

im sorry for you if your such an untertan already that this makes sense to you....these copyright laws are getting out of hand.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Jan 25, 2012)

A rather assumptious and condescending comment, be assured that contributors are looking at more than just the image which has little resemblance to the original and they can read.

0 upvotes
thinkfat
By thinkfat (Jan 25, 2012)

Now, if I took a similar photo but desaturated the bus instead ... would that be different enough? Or if I changed the bus' color to green? The box of Pandora is wide open.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

the UK law system is a joke..... just look at how the UK threats photographers in general.

that is why i will not visit the olympics.

1 upvote
DPierce
By DPierce (Jan 25, 2012)

Will the courts maintain and publish a list of all landmarks, animals, flowers, people, naturally occurring shapes and compositional elements that are now protected by their new interpretation?

I hope that the prior history between the two was the primary factor in the decision.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

i patent portraits witht window light from the left.

if i see some of you making images that include portraits shoot with window light from the left i will sue your A$$!!

honest i will ruin you and your family!!!

if you wnat to shoot such images call 999-imalawyer-777 and buy a license!

1 upvote
Miguel Mealha
By Miguel Mealha (Jan 25, 2012)

He has now the Patent for red buses with desaturated background. Whats next?

1 upvote
Zds
By Zds (Jan 25, 2012)

Good gods.. Since when *ideas* became copyrightable..

1 upvote
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

Since copyright law was created. If you try to release an album with Beatles songs where you play all the instruments and sing all the lyrics, you're still infringing on their copyright (the "idea" of the order in which the notes were arranged and the words), although you're not producing identical sounds.

Read the verdict (link at the top).

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

http://tinyurl.com/87u2htn

what a unique idea!!!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Jan 25, 2012)

How ridiculous the judge is clearly not aware that cameras can isolate colour as a matter of course. The law certainly is an 'ASS' on this occasion. Is it being suggested that no one in this world can take a similar shot and not be in breach of copyright? What about all the similar shots that assistants create based on standard studio lighting, is this not the same as stealing their photographers ideas?

It should also be noted that there is a photographer who displays his work in Covent Garden with similar effects and has done for years, is Justin Fielder in breach of copying the work of this photographer. It is a nonsense and hoped that it will be appealed.

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
mark murphy
By mark murphy (Jan 25, 2012)

I agree - I have used the color accent feature on my Canon S95/100 a number of times. In this case on Vauxhall bridge (the next one down) - lo and behold the most iconic element is a big Red Bus, thus the resultant photograph is very similar. Am I breaching copyright or am I merely using a camera function. Next on the list will be Depth of Field copyright.

0 upvotes
DiscreteCosine
By DiscreteCosine (Jan 25, 2012)

Does your camera also have a "paint the whole sky white" function? And when you took such a picture (if indeed you did), were you deliberately trying to copy the photo shown above, after trying to use the original to sell your products without paying the author? If so, then yes, you would be breaching copyright if you tried to use that photo commercially.

Read the ruling. The tea company was clearly trying to copy the look of the original photo to avoid paying the author.

1 upvote
stroboscopic
By stroboscopic (Jan 25, 2012)

From the judge's ruling: "[Mr. Fielder's] had the idea of making the red bus stand against a black and white background from the film Schindler's List".

So, he will be hearing from Mr. Spielberg's lawyers soon... Scary!

2 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

well that idea is OBVIOUS.

the judge should have done a google search...

5 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 25, 2012)

What is being condemned is the deliberate copying of a photo/photographic idea (used on row upon row of best-selling souvenirs).

0 upvotes
ozgoldman
By ozgoldman (Jan 25, 2012)

Its very clear that many submitting comment to this particular forum have no understanding of copyright law.
Copyright is a complex and diverse subject with a myraid of outcomes that may be somewhat confusing to a lay person.

I do point out however, that the law of defamation appears to have been breached here regarding derogatory comment directed towards the judge in several of the contributions, and could in the UK be subject to legal process.

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

who cares?..... if you have some common sense many laws make no sense.

the world would be a much better place with half as much lawyers and some judges who have some common sense.

5 upvotes
SteveGJ
By SteveGJ (Jan 25, 2012)

@ozgoldman I suggest that you look up the law regarding defamation. You cannot be successfully sued for defamation on something that's an expression of personal opinion. You have to make a statement false statement of fact. For instance, claiming corruption or claims of intent. To call somebody a fool or an idiot is not actionable, and neither is a disagreement on the judgement made.

So on that basis, I'll quite happily say that you appear to be ill-informed when it comes to the law of defamation in England & Wales.

2 upvotes
DUMB4SS
By DUMB4SS (Jan 25, 2012)

And you do have an understanding?
Strictly speaking it's Libel, but the judge would have to be a complete idiot (again?) to proceed with "legal process" over the opinions shared here.

1 upvote
eenymac
By eenymac (Jan 25, 2012)

I think the subject of copyright has been twisted and perverted out of all recognition in order to make it a money making scheme for lawyers and digruntled inventors and artists.
What next? Perhaps a recent Pigeon photo will get me into trouble with someone as it resembles a photo they took a couple of years back? Different Pigeon but same location / background and in a similar pose?
I'm sure there are many artists and photographers out there who, having seen some work, go out and try to emulate the look and feel of the original. That is NOT infringement of copyright, no matter how similar it may look to an original work.

seriously, this world gets crazier every day!

2 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Jan 25, 2012)

Trademark or trade dress infringement? Yes - its about confusing products sold side by side. Copyright? No, this makes for bad law.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

this shows how moronic the law system in most countrys is.

i made exactly the same image!!!!

only from the other side of the parliament in 2008.

B&W image and red bus... as if color key is such a uniqe idea in this case....

and i would feel ashamed to go to court for this.. really.

1 upvote
doctor digi
By doctor digi (Jan 25, 2012)

Perhaps you'd feel differently if someone was doing this with your work all the time? Please read what the judge said.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

i read it and it´s NONSENSE......

we all copy other photographers from time to time... because what we photograph is what is OUT THERE!!
and even when someone is copying my images... im flattered.

a red bus in london before a B&W background is nothing that should be copyrighted in ANY way no matter what.

it´s a simple idea... a concept MILLIONS have done before.
i have done it...

and if i like to copy ansel adams with my OWN camera... i sure don´t want a judge to tell me im not allowed too.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
mediokre
By mediokre (Jan 25, 2012)

Guys, it's not just about the photos. Context is crucial: "He also took into account the evidence that Mr Houghton was aware of Mr Fielder's image (the two had previously been to court when they had failed to reach a licensing agreement over Houghton's previous infringement of Fielder's copyright), to conclude the similarities were causally related."

0 upvotes
doctor digi
By doctor digi (Jan 25, 2012)

Yes. But unfortunately we have a bunch of legal experts on DPReview who would rather not consider the context and just look at the pictures.

If I had someone blatently copying my picture ideas and doing it on purpose then, yes, I'd tke them to court.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Jan 25, 2012)

well then thank god that nobody will copy your stuff.... ROTFL

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 25, 2012)

so you never look at photo magazines or websites, draw inspiration from the images you see, and produce your own interpretation, inspired to some degree by those who went before? No, I guess your photos are all completely uninformed by the corpus of imagery that interests you.

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 25, 2012)

@doctor digi - that is exactly it - you can't copyright an IDEA, be it a 'picture idea' or not. That is why we are fee to take inspiration from the works of others and produce our own interpretation.

0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Jan 25, 2012)

Ridiculous reasons and decision of the judge. It's a photography style (mixing color with black and white) and coloring (black and white) photographs is being used already for centuries.

I think the judge judged their problems from the past much too much in his conclusion. Again it's a style of photography being used, which is already a long time here...nothing is copied from a unique aspect point of view or unique processing, Mr. Fielder copied it himself as well.

Although this is Britain..it could happen probable in Netherlands as well :-)

2 upvotes
ShatteredSky
By ShatteredSky (Jan 25, 2012)

Sorry, I normally do not post like this, but that decision is plain freaking sh@@t. That is such a basic, non ingenious-idea, but well, that is not the point here (since I also have a lot of boring etc. shots on my PC) ... it relates to what olyflyer said some posts before. You shoot a perfectly banal scene like that and others are not entitled to do the same?

Cheers

2 upvotes
Total comments: 738
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