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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
12345
Moto1d
By Moto1d (11 months ago)

whats even worse is that the bottom image of the bus is photoshopped. The bus is not to the correct sale of the person to the right and the distance between the white lines on the road. Bad edit always anoys me arrrg.

0 upvotes
darrelllarose
By darrelllarose (Sep 19, 2012)

My local camera club got a Notice of Infringment for Getty images quoting both DMCA and the Canadian Copyright Act that this image taken by one of our members;

http://tinyurl.com/9l933ox

that was entered in a colour slide (35mm Fujichrome Velvia) competition October 2002, and presented on our website form June 2003 on. Getty claims the background is different, but they did a "pixel-to-pixel" comparison and have declared that it's the same butterfly.

Getty's image;

http://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/photo/butterfly-high-res-stock-photography/86061990

Geety sent us a NOI, and an Invoice for $950 for use of our member's image! They aren't certain the date of their image by Bill Boch. Seems like extortion.

2 upvotes
Angel318
By Angel318 (Apr 16, 2012)

No way that these two images are the same or that it infringes on copyright of any sort! two diff use of B&W 2 dif angle of view and two diff buses! maybe it was inspired by the original like every photographer has done in his lifetime by some other photographer before him.

0 upvotes
renapearl
By renapearl (Feb 29, 2012)

Crazy! Yes, it may have inspired the 'copy' image but it is very different: angle of view, lens used. In fact the only thing that is similar is that the route master bus stands out as it is red as opposed to black and white. In deed in Nick Houghton's image, the route master is the main point of focus - not so in Fielder's image.

2 upvotes
spikey27
By spikey27 (Feb 22, 2012)

Woe be unto anyone that posts a photo of a person, train, or other scene that has anything in common to any other.

Similar, yes.

Infringing. No way.

It's obvious why they say "justice is blind."

The judge needs his head examined.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Solar
By Solar (Feb 11, 2012)

So does that mean if a group of photographer's go to a park and shoot the same scene and then go home and develop it in Lightroom using the same preset, or selective coloring, that you can be guilty of copyright infringement?

I guess the guy who leaves early and gets his copyright app in first is the only one who can show how work without worry of legal infringement. Of course, what happens if I went to the park a week earlier and developed my photos much the same way AFTER him? I still have an earlier production date!

1 upvote
lylejk
By lylejk (Feb 6, 2012)

Englad's a lost cause, but unfortunately, we are way too close to doing the same here. I say enough already and vote out the idiocy before it's too late here. Not sure Englad can be saved from their self-inflicted tradegy. :)

0 upvotes
mcusty
By mcusty (Feb 5, 2012)

The legal system is bonkers. The first is a photo of a bus passing a lampost. The second is a photo of a bus not passing a lampost

0 upvotes
Ermac
By Ermac (Feb 2, 2012)

well it's official... digital killed photography.

0 upvotes
vortexring
By vortexring (Feb 1, 2012)

Maybe this has been posted previously (but I don't have time to go though over 700 posts), but how many times have we all seen people reproducing Warhol style Pop Art quad of images, how is doing that, any different to this example above?

0 upvotes
kiwi71
By kiwi71 (Feb 1, 2012)

The best thing about these comments is the very clear explanation given by Karl Grambow.

So clear surely no one could fail to grasp it.

Yet its then followed by a stack of people who utterly fail to grasp it.

Priceless.

0 upvotes
Iusedfilm
By Iusedfilm (Jan 31, 2012)

Hi,
It is clear from the two images that the Judge is/was blind. These people actually get payed to do this? Presumably, the defence lawyers actually knew what they were doing, which case why on Earth did they allow an admission and intent to copy as part of the defence????? If it was not for it's possible consequences, this would actually be very funny. You know, British humour :)

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Feb 1, 2012)

Read the post below and the corresponding link.

0 upvotes
Holgs
By Holgs (Jan 30, 2012)

In case anyone is still interested in this topic, I've done up a bit of a summary of the case and what it actually means, minus some of the hype:

http://travelphotographyreview.com/uk-copyright-case-different-same-same

I don't think most people noticed that the second image here isn't actually a single photo, but is a photoshopped collage made up of 4 photos from the defendant, and a stock image from istockphoto of the bus.

If all you're doing is photographing a similar scene, then you've got nothing to worry about.

3 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 30, 2012)

Great article and summary of the case!

Should put to bed some of the overreaction that has come out of this case in the first place.

0 upvotes
JAMESKB
By JAMESKB (Jan 30, 2012)

I'm no lawyer but I would guess that if there were any special rights attached to either of these 'works of art' they should belong to the developers of the imaging programme used and, by supplying these adversaries, have given them both implied rights to use this filter

0 upvotes
Frank_NZ
By Frank_NZ (Jan 30, 2012)

I hope the Judge is not born in April. He/She comes across as an April Fool with such a ruling. The time is certainly different and its not even the same bus going by the route number. I wonder if he or she will support my copyright claim for taking a picture of Big Bens clockface. I did take it many years ago so any royalties from duplicate images will certainly pay my rent for a few years

0 upvotes
nanoc
By nanoc (Jan 30, 2012)

The judges never took pitcures in London! Come on! I've been to London twice. I have pictures of phone booths, with everything but the booths in black and white (and no, I haven't seen other pictures like that, but I bet there are thousands on the internet), I have pictures of that bridge during day, night, cloudy day, in B&W, in colour, with busses, without busses, with taxi cabs, without... selective desaturation is a very common treatment and, when something stands up so obviously, you don't even need to think about it! Let's see: thames, Parliament, Bus.... how can you go to london and NOT photograph all that in the same picture?

0 upvotes
nanoc
By nanoc (Jan 31, 2012)

How can I delete a post? After reading the post by Holgs, it's clear that my post is out of place, as are most of the posts here.

0 upvotes
Exposed Monkey
By Exposed Monkey (Feb 3, 2012)

LOL, I have exactly the same thing too.. Please don't sue me.

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (Jan 30, 2012)

This is a bizarre ruling. Monochrome images with one element in colour are so common these days as to be cliché. I don't know who first came up with that idea, but it certainly wasn't Fielder. Amongst the hundreds of thousands of images there are of a London bus going over that bridge in front of the House of Parliament, it is also hard to believe that Fielder was the first to apply this technique to such a photograph.

I hope this case is overturned on appeal - otherwise it sets a dangerous precedent.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
shelesq
By shelesq (Jan 30, 2012)

Don't count on other judges coming up with the same decision given virtually identical facts. The kiss of death is a defendant saying that he/she saw the copyrighted image and then made his/her own version of the copyrighted material. The judge will hear that as, "I copied the photograph."

Teru Rinshou (Jan 29, 2012 at 14:52:48 GMT) outlined what should have been the backbone of the defense.
". . . none of the defense lawyers had the common sense to type "london bridge, red bus, black and white" in Google images".
The testimony should have been that I saw hundreds (or whatever number is realistic) of "London bridge, red bus, black and white" pictures and I have no recollection of seeing the copyrighted photo.

I lost a copyright infringement case when my client insisted on saying that he had a copy of the copyrighted material but.....".

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 30, 2012)

The problem here is that the defendant had previously been to court (and lost) on account of using the image without consent and/or paying royalites.

So he could have hardly used a defence of "I saw hundreds of images....".

0 upvotes
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

The defense is that he didn't copy it. That's all he needs, Karl K Grambow. It doesn't matter what he intended or what he did in the past. What matters is that he made all the efforts not to break the law, yet he's still found guilty of it because he deliberately made every effort to be lawful. Kind of crazy.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Tom Schum
By Tom Schum (Jan 30, 2012)

An image of mine remains mine only until somebody else complains that my image is too much like one of theirs.
This is depressing!

1 upvote
P2L1
By P2L1 (Jan 30, 2012)

So, Fielder now owns arguable rights in all pictures of red busses on Westminster Bridge on a cloudy day. Cool. I'll hire his barrister, go to Arizona, and get the rights to all red bus pictures on the London Bridge. We'll be rich, and have all the other bridge pictures tied up forever, in no time at all!

2 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 30, 2012)

No he doesn't. Go read the judgment in full.

Fielder won the case because the defendant admitted to copying Fielders image (he actually set out to do that).

The defendant lost the case not because the images were similar but because he copied the original image.

The judge said that, had the defendant gotten someone else to take a picture of a bus crossing the bridge with houses of parliament in the background that would have been fine. Or had he taken a picture without any knowledge of the first that would have been OK.

0 upvotes
P2L1
By P2L1 (Feb 1, 2012)

Thank you. Still, the image shown in the article was not a copy of the original image. It was similar, but it was different and that difference, not the intent of the photographer, is what should be the turning point here.

1 upvote
BJKC
By BJKC (Jan 29, 2012)

Wow !!! I want to sue BOTH Fielder and Houghton, as I have similar images and treatment that pre-date theirs by several years.
While I'm at it, I'm going to sue everything on the planet that has taken a photograph of someone pretending to hold up the leaning tower at Pisa, because I have had the rights to that "pose" since 2000BC. (Prove otherwise)
Seriously, the law is an ass, and those who seek to exploit its quirks for financial gain, as in this case, are asses too.
This must be one of the most-photographed iconic views of London, and its treatment by both photographers is certainly not original.
Shame on Fielder, and Houghton will certainly win on appeal, as the "Court of the Public Arena" is all-powerful.

3 upvotes
M1963
By M1963 (Jan 29, 2012)

Just my two cents as a lawyer who happens to love photography: the danger I see here is that this decision may constitute a precedent for future copyright-related law suits. In my view, this showcases the obsolescence and inadequacy of the rule of precedent, an essentially empyrical system that fails to understand modern times and leaves too much power on the hands of the judge. A sentence like this wouldn't be likely to have any pernicious effects under the rule of law that roman law-based countries follow in continental Europe (Germany, France, Italy, etc.). Here a judge's ruling is not binding for future cases, and the decisions of courts of appeal may serve as a judge's guidance but don't establish rules. In England and the US, it may now be possible to file suits against anyone who photographs certain subjects just because someone was there first. It goes further: even post-processing can now fall under liability. This has the potential to turn courts into lotteries.

3 upvotes
lumigraphics
By lumigraphics (Jan 29, 2012)

Seriously? This is idiotic. The images are nothing alike.

2 upvotes
Peter iNova
By Peter iNova (Jan 29, 2012)

Rubbish!

1 upvote
Jim Salvas
By Jim Salvas (Jan 29, 2012)

People who take pics of garden gnomes in front of landmarks are in big trouble. Good thing my gnome is a rabbit.

1 upvote
tbcass
By tbcass (Jan 29, 2012)

I can see why the judge ruled the way he did because it sure seems to be Houghton stole the idea BUT.... I don't think the original photograph is that great or original. All in all a pretty generic photograph.

0 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Jan 29, 2012)

YES! Now I can sue over a BILLION people over taking the same angle photograph of the moon as me!

3 upvotes
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (Jan 29, 2012)

Years of law school education, and none of the defense lawyers had the common sense to type "london bridge, red bus, black and white" in Google images?

4 upvotes
koseng
By koseng (Jan 29, 2012)

The judge knows nothing about photography. Stupid case that has serious consequences to photographers.

1 upvote
Charles King
By Charles King (Jan 29, 2012)

While the judge here is manifestly wrong, the real idiots are the lawyers for the defence, who failed to advance a argument of independent design.

The images show significant differences in composition and the mere juxtaposition of two iconic images with differences in colour saturation is a common technique that doesn't confer any original creation in itself. It would have been trivial to argue that, while Houghton was aware of the 2005 work, he was also aware of many other similar works, and set out to create an image that combined these iconic elements in a novel and distinctive manner. As a few people have mentioned in this thread, it's clear to any photographer that the composition and framing of the second image is superior to the first.

Basically, the defendants shot themselves in the foot.

If Copyright Law is to remain true to the purpose of promoting useful creation, though, it should deny protection to kitschy tourist-puke photos like this anyway.

2 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 30, 2012)

The lawyers could hardly use that defence when the defendant had previously been taken to court for trying to use that very same image in a commercial setting without obtaining prior consent or paying royalties.

So the defendant shot himself in the foot by first trying to "steal" the image and subsequently trying to copy it because he didn't get away with stealing it.

1 upvote
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

But he didn't steal it or copy it this time. That's the point. He tried to be lawful and then the law changed to now include intent and past offenses. Why should NOT committing a crime be a crime now because of a past offense. He wants a picture of a bus and London, but all attempts are now copyright violations, no matter how lawful they're created.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
1 upvote
welshman2004
By welshman2004 (Jan 29, 2012)

more nonsense

0 upvotes
Skysong
By Skysong (Jan 28, 2012)

I think the bus should own the copyright. P)

3 upvotes
RichardBalonglong
By RichardBalonglong (Jan 28, 2012)

this is stupid...

3 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (Jan 28, 2012)

Shakespeare would have been in serious trouble.

2 upvotes
BTWilliam04
By BTWilliam04 (Jan 28, 2012)

It seems that the ruling was weighted heavily by the fact that these two had been in court before. In my opinion, both pictures are pretty boring anyway so who cares.

0 upvotes
ciao_chao
By ciao_chao (Jan 29, 2012)

The problem I see is that, because this judgement has been made that it can potentially be used as case law in future cases.

0 upvotes
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

Exactly. The ruling shouldn't have been weighted on that. It should have been weighed on whether or not he copied the image, This Time. Not that he did so previously. The judge went too far.

0 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Jan 28, 2012)

People should be prohibited from commenting on this article until they answer a quiz about the case. IMHO the judge rendered a fair and just decision in this case but unfortunately it may have gone beyond the scope of copyright law. He should have applied the principles of trademark law instead, to get the same result on more solid footing.

2 upvotes
UponQuai
By UponQuai (Jan 28, 2012)

Are you talking or farting there ?

0 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Jan 27, 2012)

Money Talk

1 upvote
diy
By diy (Jan 27, 2012)

I think the defendants' comments on the first picture is quite accurate (but the judge did not agree):
"The defendants submit that copyright law does not stretch to protecting Mr Fielder's idea; it protects his expression of that idea but the expression of the idea by the defendants is different, they say, in almost every respect. They urge on me that the composition of the claimant's work is extraordinarily ordinary. As such it could only really be infringed by lifting the image itself, i.e. facsimile reproduction. The level of skill and labour which went into the image manipulation is so low that it would not be infringed by anything other than facsimile reproduction, which of course has not happened. "

The judge somehow liked the first picture a lot.

I particularly like the sentence "The level of skill and labour which went into the image manipulation is so low ..." (I in general like how British people talk, in movies, LOL)

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
diy
By diy (Jan 27, 2012)

The judge said
"... The basic composition of the image has the Routemaster driving from right to left on the bridge but there is more to it than that. The bus is actually framed by the building. Although the framing is a little different in Annex 2, to my eye the essence of the framing effect has been reproduced. Although the bus is larger in Annex 2 than Annex 1, in both images the bus roughly in scale with the facade of the Houses of Parliament. ..."

The last sentence about scale really shows that the judge does not understand photography. The relative scale of the bus and buildings is determined by where you stand. Whoever stands at that (tourist) spot and take the photo (they do have to wait for the bus to come close) will have a similar scale.

The judge used this as evidence that the defendant copied the claimant's composition, ignoring other more obvious differences in composition that any photographer can see (e.g. the bus more dominant in the 2nd pic). This is overstreching.

4 upvotes
diy
By diy (Jan 27, 2012)

It's funny that the judge actually said "Although the framing is a little different ...", "Although the bus is larger in Annex 2 than Annex 1". What to any photographer very important decisions is described using "although ... although ..." by the judge.

I struggled for years (and still struggling) to learn to determine the right "framing" of a picture and the right "size" of the main objects.

The judge said the ruling is based on "qualitative assessment", but he weighs things so differently from an ordinary photographer. His qualitative assessment is simply nonsense.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Bryan Costin
By Bryan Costin (Jan 27, 2012)

Gads, that's a horrible decision. When I create an image, I have certain rights regarding the image I created. Not the image you create. It's of absolutely no relevance whatsoever if you set out to make a new photo which looks somewhat like someone else's photo. Because what you have created is not, in fact, someone else's photo. It's your photo.

No rational claim of copyright can grant Justin Fielder, whoever he is, some magical monopoly on pictures of buses or buildings or any combination thereof. That's just idiocy.

7 upvotes
Alberto Battelli
By Alberto Battelli (Jan 28, 2012)

I agree. Just Google Big Ben Red Bus, see what you get. Hundreds of defendants.

4 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Jan 27, 2012)

Seriously, though, 80+% of the literary publishing industry lives off the bandwagon mentality. Very few publishers want something new.

Don't know the particulars of the photo industry ...

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Jan 27, 2012)

Don't copy it -- improve it!

Make the bus blue and put it on the right side of the road. The Republicans will buy it.

1 upvote
diy
By diy (Jan 27, 2012)

This is UK? The right side is the wrong side.

Then you will get a ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road. LOL

0 upvotes
QuentinUK
By QuentinUK (Jan 27, 2012)

This has happened before - when Getty saw English pop star Fatboy Slim's album cover "Halfway Between..." (sunset between legs) and thought it looked like "Sunset Silhouette" by Ernst Haas. After checking the ip addresses of visitors to their website they proved that his album cover was inspired by their photo and so got compensation.

0 upvotes
Quantum3
By Quantum3 (Jan 27, 2012)

Those pics are clearly not the same pic...

1 upvote
JoshKline
By JoshKline (Jan 27, 2012)

I think this is a bad decision. A selective color treatment is not that unique and Big Bend and a double decker bus are some of the most photographed icons in London. I don't think having white sky makes it special either. I am not very familiar with English copyright law but this decision is dangerous in its' implications. Let's face it all of us steal ideas we are influenced by thousands of years of artistic expression. We try to put our own mark on things but nothing is 100% unique. Hopefully they will appeal.

5 upvotes
Glenn Smith
By Glenn Smith (Jan 27, 2012)

I like the bottom better

2 upvotes
remeife
By remeife (Jan 27, 2012)

This is the most stupid I'v ever heard

5 upvotes
Alberto Battelli
By Alberto Battelli (Jan 28, 2012)

The stupidest

0 upvotes
Gordon Urquhart
By Gordon Urquhart (Jan 27, 2012)

Should these people be sued as well?

http://www.allposters.co.uk/-sp/London-Red-Bus-Posters_i4839980_.htm

C'mon! it's in plain view! Plus, the images do not even look the same! Concept - yes. Accurate reproduction - Absolutely not.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

Did those people use the original image in an attempt to duplicate it?

That's what people are missing here. The defendant specifically set out to make a copy the original. He admits as much.

If the defendant hadn't known about the original and had just happened to take a similar-looking photo (by accident) then the judge would have ruled differently.

2 upvotes
SamTruax
By SamTruax (Jan 27, 2012)

So with that logic then if I paint a bad reproduction of the Mona Lisa with a frown on her face and from a different angle and use it in advertising I should be stopped...and sued of course. Oh wait a minute, that HAS happened about a million times already.
Even if he was attempting to 'copy' the original he obviously did a terrible job because they are nowhere near alike. It's also a PHOTOGRAPH of a PUBLIC bus in a PUBLIC place... who the hell believes that they have some right over that property over anyone else that has a camera?!

7 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

First of all, copywrite laws were not invented when the Mona Lisa was painted so there is no copywrite on the Mona Lisa. Which is precisely why you see so many post cards of it and different depictions of it.

Secondly no one has the right to stop someone from taking a photograph of something in public - even the judge said that had he gone there to take a photograph and it just happened to come out looking like it did that would have been fine.

The point is that the defendant specifically set out to "copy" the main elements of that specific image. No other image influenced him, it was that very image that he decided he wanted to duplicate, as close as possible without infringing on copywrite.

Turns out he was too close for the judge because it didn't matter how many differences there were but rather how many similarities there were.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 27, 2012)

by the end of this saga, Karl, I truly hope you will have learned the correct spelling of copyright ;)
It is simply not right to write of righting wrongs with a wrong writing of rights.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
SamTruax
By SamTruax (Jan 27, 2012)

Bad example, you are right... but there are millions of other examples that could have been used with the same point.
The fact remains that he took a photo of a red bus in London from a different position than the original and then he highlighted the colors in the bus. And to say that this judgement was based on him copying that exact image doesn't hold water because his image is significantly different By that argument he should now be able to purchase a much more similar image by a completely different photographer as long as that photographer didn't intend to copy the image in question when he/she originally shot it and I'm sure there are a lot of them out there. Many of which were shot before the image in question.
The color highlight function is part of the scene modes of millions of p&s cameras available today and there are a number of computer and smartphone apps that could reproduce this image in mere seconds.
Too much credit is being give to this piece of 'art'.

2 upvotes
JoshKline
By JoshKline (Jan 27, 2012)

Copyrights are limited by time. Not sure of exacts for English law but there is always a limit on protection usually the authors lifespan plus some period of years. The Mona Lisa is clearly public domain at this point even if copyright law existing in Da Vinci's time.

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

>By that argument he should now be able to purchase a much more similar image by a completely different photographer as long as that photographer didn't intend to copy the image...

That's actually correct. The judge himself summed this up when he said that if the defendant had told someone else to go and take a picture of a bus crossing the bridge with Westminster in the background (using a color highlight method) then this would have been fine.

>Too much credit is being give to this piece of 'art'.

On that point I don't disagree with you at all :). But I suspect that the original image is of some value to the photographer because it has apparently appeared in a lot of tourist materials, for which he receives royalties.

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

>by the end of this saga, Karl, I truly hope you will have learned the correct spelling of copyright ;)
It is simply not right to write of righting wrongs with a wrong writing of rights.

Touché. I'm ashamed of myself :s.

1 upvote
diy
By diy (Jan 27, 2012)

The defense did a lusy job. One can argue that the defendent intended only to copy the "ideas" not the exact "expressions". (He might have admitted otherwise, but, hey, who understands all these law jargons. It could simply be the judge misinterpreted his words.) That is the key issue. Since many have mentioned already that "ideas" are not protected by copyright laws. The expressions here can be argued to be quite different.

1 upvote
Father Anderson
By Father Anderson (Jan 27, 2012)

I read the judgement and concluded, based soley on the evidence presented in that judgement, that the judge is a doddering old man that has never held a camera more advanced than an auto point-shoot throwaway.

What of all the photographers that intentionally tried to find Ansel's tripod marks? Shall we confiscate their cameras, take away their birthdays or simply jail them?

There are so many postcards available in London right now of "similiar" shots of these three iconic elements of London - Parliament, double-decker and misty-moors - that I can only imagine the judge must be one of those that have plagued British photographers for the last decade concerning the "link" between terrorits and photography....poor old man...he should just go home and tend his roses.

4 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

Get a grip. Who's talking about anyone getting jailed? If the judge is doddering then many on here are mis-informed over-reacting fools.

The defendant isn't going to jail (this is a civil offence), he's not having his camera confiscated. All he's been told to do is remove the image from his Tea packaging.

If you stuck your tripod on the same spot as Ansel Adams, took a photo that was very similar to one of his and then decided to use said photo to advertise a commercial product then I'd say that the estate that owns the rights to Ansel Adam's photos has every right to request (legally if necessary) that you stop using the image (which is clearly a copy) for advertising.

0 upvotes
remeife
By remeife (Jan 27, 2012)

You are completely wrong. If I am inspired by others and are able to sell The result no one can claim that I am copying. If you are right no more cameras will be sold because no one will take the risk to be sued.

3 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

Looks like you clearly haven't read the full judgment.

No one is claiming that the defendant copied the original. He himself ADMITTED that he went about copying elements from the original.

The judgment was all about determining whether the elements that he did copy were sufficient to infringe upon the original's copywrite.

And guess what... the original photographer did claim precisely what you suggest cannot be claimed - and he won.

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 27, 2012)

@Karl
"...that you stop using the image (which is clearly a copy) for advertising."
-----------
there you go again. I thought we agreed that commercial exploitation was NOT the issue here. The issue is copyright violation. You do not need to exploit the image to be guilty of copyright infringement. That is why we are all now law-breakers according to this ruling, pros and amateurs alike.
So nobody is allowed to follow in AA's footsteps and make photos in homage to his style in those locations (or similar looking locations), unless they can prove they never heard of AA still less that they had ever seen his works.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

Commercial exploitation is the issue. Why do you think copywrite laws came about - to protect the commercial interests of people that felt they had something to copywrite.

UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 has a term called "fair dealing" (US copywrite law has a similar term called "fair use") which allows the use/depiction, incidental copying of copywrited material for the purpose of research, private study, critical review and/or non-commercial purposes.

So you're not a law breaker - don't worry about it :)

0 upvotes
tombiondo
By tombiondo (Jan 27, 2012)

If it were not being used commercially, there would be no problem. When someone is making money off another's copyright, therein the lies problem. It is that simple.

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 27, 2012)

no. it is not that simple. As an honest citizen I want to know that I am on the right side of the law. This judgement says that if I make a photo deliberately and unashamedly inspired by the work of another then I have infringed that person's copyright. I would not sleep easy at night knowing that the I have committed an offence, whether or not anybody decides to prosecute. The law is one thing, prosecution of the law is another.
If it makes it easier for you to grasp, then we could say I operated at the copyright holder's expense by producing my own work instead of paying for his. But that really is not the point. The point is, this rulling makes me a law-breaker, whether or not anybody decides to make a deal over that in court.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 27, 2012)

@Karl
"...and/or non-commercial purposes."

So why is the music industry so vexed about copyright infringement - I'm not planning to sell the stuff I copy after all, it is only for my own non-commercial enjoyment.

1 upvote
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

Go and read the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The law clearly states several exceptions to which copywrite does not apply.

Those exceptions are (but not limited to):

incidental copying of copywrited material for the purpose of research, private study, critical review and/or non-commercial purposes.

So the judgment does nothing to change that and you can continue in your normal way and not fear for being a law breaker.

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

And the reason that the music industry is so vexed because when you copy some music you are commercially exploting the music industry by not paying for something you should have done.

Your personal enjoyment of the music is commercial if you didn't pay for it.

Again, it all comes down to money. If you copy 1 album a year it doesn't amount to much money. But if millions around the world are doing it then the music industry sits up and starts getting all worked up about it :).

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Jan 27, 2012)

and if I shoot my own AA style photo, then I don't have to buy one.

0 upvotes
Karl K Grambow
By Karl K Grambow (Jan 27, 2012)

In that case I'd buy your AA style photo ;). Oh but wait, then that would definately infringe on copyright (correct spelling).

In all seriousness, I suspect that the music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and that has something to do with their attitude. Whereas the print photograpy industry is no where near on that scale. If it was then maybe we'd be facing the same issues as we are with the music industry - who knows?

0 upvotes
tedtedted
By tedtedted (Feb 4, 2012)

Great Karl. We can copy a photo for non-commercial use or whatever. The whole problem with your argument is that he deliberately did not copy the photos. But that apparently makes him guilty of it anyway, in your and the judges warped mind. This is why people are outraged. The logic is wrong. He didn't copy the photo. Trying so hard not to doesn't make him guilty by intent. He didn't copy it in this case.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
PinkertOn
By PinkertOn (Jan 27, 2012)

>600 comments for this? you're kidding me

0 upvotes
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