‘Regret’ After Stonehenge Copyright Email Causes Public Outcry

Earlier this week stock agency FotoLibra received an email from English Heritage (the public organization that manages historical sites) that read,

We are sending you an email regarding images of Stonehenge in your fotoLibra website. Please be aware that any images of Stonehenge can not be used for any commercial interest, all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.

After the email and a strongly worded response was published to the FotoLibra blog, the story was picked up by Boing Boing, which then published a story titled “English Heritage claims it owns every single image of Stonehenge, ever“. Needless to say, there was a pretty swift public outcry.

In response, English Heritage issued a statement today attempting to clarify their stance and expressing regret over the “confusion caused” by the email:

English Heritage looks after Stonehenge on behalf of the nation. But we do not control the copyright of all images of Stonehenge. And we have never tried to do so. We have no problem with photographers sharing images of Stonehenge on Flickr and similar not-for-profit image websites. We encourage visitors to the monument to take their own photographs.

If a commercial photographer enters the land within our care with the intention of taking a photograph of the monument for financial gain, we ask that they pay a fee and abide by certain conditions. English Heritage is a non-profit making organisation and this fee helps preserve and protect Stonehenge for the benefit of future generations. The majority of commercial photographers respect this position and normally request permission in advance of visiting. We regret the confusion caused by a recent email sent to a picture library.

A spokesperson also tells PhotoRadar that the fee for shooting Stonehenge commercially ranges from £75 for editorial use to much higher fees for advertising campaigns. As for amateurs who photograph the prehistoric monument without intending to gain financially from the work, but later wishes to sell the image,

[…] we would be very grateful if they called and we can work something out. For instance English Heritage also has a picture library. Many people do come back and ask us if the library would like to use their image. [#]

On a slightly related note, did you know that the Eiffel Tower is protected by copyright at night due to the light display?

(via Amateur Photographer)

Image credit: Stonehenge, UK by Grufnik

  • Gregory E. Kie

    I’d like to see that legal battle.

  • Brandon

    Actually there’s a number of buildings all over the world that are copyright protected. They don’t care if you take pictures of them, it’s when you start making money from them. That’s a different story..

  • Dave Hodgkinson

    By all means assert the rights from now. But retrospectively? Get the hell outta here.

    And I’m having a hard time detecting any regret in this.

  • TK

    I’d like to see the Eiffel Tower battle Stonehenge.

  • Anon

    I’d LOVE to see these things tested in court. I’d also love to see a community say “Oh, you want to have that lighting display up and NOT freely share it. You know it’s funny, it’s glaring into my apartment and I’m suddenly feeling less like being neighborly.”

  • SnowFox Creations

    …unless the original builders of Stonehenge are immortal vampires who actively renew their copyright, the building’s design is public domain by now.

    Really, people, really… :/ How could someone “own” the image of Stonehenge (especially when they didn’t even build it?!)

  • Infared

    I like the battle idea…kind of like Rodanthe fighting with Godzilla….I think Stonehedge would win though.,

  • Arlene C. Harris

    Stonehenge / Eiffel Tower OTP! Calling all slashfic writers, preferrably with Squidwarts cred

  • freeboprich

    This is just a fact FotoLibra will have to deal will, I don’t really see what they’ve got to make a fuss about.

  • WillC

    I’m still counting to 10! Grrrrrrrrrr

  • StonehengeGuy

    At closer look EH is most interested about FotoLibra reselling selling images copyrighted by others. When will they wake up to the StonehengeCollectables being sold on eBay?

  • popmonkey

    they say this applies to photographs taken in “the land within our care” – what if i took it from miles away using a massive telephoto? what if i took an image from the air?

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  • matt

    I think its easy to take the piss, but I actually sympathise with the English Heritage in this case.

    The English Heritage is a non profit organization that maintains many national, historic places of interest all over the UK, if it wasn’t for an organization such as them then Stonehenge would not be in the good condition it is now . Its worth remembering they are not a faceless organization out to make photographers life hell, and there not looking to line there own pockets. In fact they positively go out of there way to make it fair for everyone – professionals and non professionals when it comes to photography.

    Part of there funding comes from maintaining and controlling there image collection. Its a shame (rightly or wrongly) that someone feels the need to not contribute to the upkeep of such a wonderful, and historic place by undermining there fair (in my opinion) policy on photography.

    You can all bitch and moan about your god given right to photograph what you want, and then sell photos, and ofcourse you probably right – but in this case I honestly think its in the best interest of the monument, history, and the people who enjoy visiting such a place that they maintain there stance on this.

  • Qalinx

    maybe you are right. but you know that you have to pay a ticket to visit stonehenge? maybe is also a good idea to pay a fee if you tell anybody about what you have seen. let’s presume that person was impressed and paid you a small amount of money for your narration skills. it is the same. a great picture, a great story can drive traffic to the site. more ticket sales, more money for English Heritage. This should be the way…

  • Krupky

    consider Stonehenge as art. would you take a picture of art and sell it for profit? you would be making money off artworks that someone else created. or is this simply like modern day sampling in the music industry? do we allow re-use of artistic materials simply because we put different lyrics to it?

    at the end of the day, i think it’s ethically responsible for image distributors such as this to be aware of any and all copyrights before allow finical gain for the work.

    ps, Stonehenge would totally kick the Eiffel Tower’s butt!

  • Walden

    If you were actively traveling around, and folks watchdogging the historic locations all over took this same posture, it could run you broke just paying fees at every historical location for the privilege to shoot pictures. Frankly, I agree with those who have commented that the folks “care-taking” these sites didn’t build them, and although they may have an interest in their preservation, that’s a far cry from having the right to control any copyright of images of them. If they need funds, those should be gotten from entrance fees, donations, and whatever governments are inclined to allot them for doing the job. It’s amazing to me just how far carried away people can get with such notions… before you know it, they’ll be putting meters on us all to track how much fresh air we breathe an how much sunlight falls on us… and please don’t bring that subject up with the political ninnies – they don’t need any more help figuring out how they can stick it to us a bit more… I’m sure they’ll eventually get to it on their own, without any helpful suggestions from bystanders like us.

  • Walden

    …another thought. If some unexpected evidence turned up that established that the people who built Stonehenge had actually originated somewhere in Norway, would the English Heritage folks graciously bow out and relinquish their “copyright” to the folks over in Norway?

  • dbur

    This kind of stuff is as lame as the International Olympic Committee copyrighting the word Olympic. They’re going all over the US suing anyone using that word.

    I’ve paid photographers fees at heritage sites but always considered my photos to be mine to do with what I choose. It’s never been stated otherwise at the other places I’ve been.

    People just need to get over trying to finagle a way to make a buck off others for any excuse they can think of.

    Almost as dumb and offensive as the US Park barricading Old Faithful when it erupts to keep people from seeing it during the stupid guvmnt shutdown. Maybe they should just stay shutdown (and go home as well).