If you’re a photographer in the UK, you might want to think twice about shooting and selling a photograph that has a similar composition to an existing photo. Souvenir company Temple Island Collection has won a copyright infringement case against tea company New English Teas after a photo of a red London bus was used on tea packaging. Photo copyright expert and lawyer Charles Swan states,
His honour Judge Birss QC decided that a photograph of a red London bus against a black and white background of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, with a blank sky, was similar enough to another photograph of the same subject matter to infringe copyright.
The decision is perhaps surprising, given the commonplace subject matter of the photographs. The judge himself admitted that he found it a difficult question, but in the end he decided that a substantial part of photograph one [Temple Island's image, top] had been reproduced in photograph two [New English Teas', bottom].
Although the photo itself wasn’t copied, the judge ruled that the similarity of the ‘visual contrast’ of the red bus and B&W background infringed on the original photographer’s ‘intellectual creation’. The case is reminiscent of photographer David LaChapelle’s lawsuit against Rihanna for infringing upon his style in one of her music videos. Rihanna ended up paying an undisclosed sum of money to LaChapelle to settle the case.
A UK photographer who goes by the moniker Hamstify was documenting his town Scunthorpe late last year when he was confronted by security personel outside a Golden Wonder plant and ordered to stop photographing. He was shooting from a public location, so he decided to stand up for his rights and film the argument that transpired. On VisitScunthorpe.com, he writes,
What also aggrieves me is that someone in a uniform representing a company in an apparent position of authority can try and intimidate members of the public by making up laws that don’t exist. This seemed to be an attempt to subjugate a member of the public into accepting what was being told was to be true. Further more hurling offensive insults and puerile slander, like seen at the end of the video, surely isn’t something that someone in that position should resort to.
In general, for UK residents, photography from public places is perfectly legal. There are some exceptions (e.g. buildings critical to national security), but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re shooting from public property police and security guards don’t have the power to stop you.
Now here’s an absolutely bizarre statistic if it’s actually true: 76 percent of Facebook photos with tagged Britons show the subjects in some state of drunkenness. Photo book service MyMemory.com surveyed 1,781 Britons over the age of 18, asking them to estimate the percentage of their pics that showed them under the influence of alcohol. A quarter of those respondents also said that their privacy settings allowed the general public to view their tagged images.
Photographer Tim Allen spotted this sign outside the Aldwych tube station, an abandoned London Underground station that recently opened up for tours. While photography bans are pretty common, the station has decided to only ban DSLRs due to “their combination of high quality sensor and high resolution”. Other cameras are allowed in, as long as they don’t look “big” enough to shoot amazing photos.
Last Friday, 45-year-old Chris White was at the Braehead shopping center near Glasgow, when he took a snapshot of his daughter Hazel eating some ice cream. He was then confronted by security guards — and later the police — who cited the Prevention of Terrorism Act to explain that it was in their rights to confiscate his phone. While they did allow him to keep the photos, they demanded his personal details. Afterward, White created a Facebook page titled “Boycott Braehead” in an effort to draw attention to the incident. Read more…
After the widespread looting that occurred in the UK recently, a guy named Mrog Deville was inspired to distribute photographic art to the masses. Through his project This Was Found, Deville makes prints of photographs, frames them, and then leaves them in various locations where you normally wouldn’t expect to see art. His hope is that either the works will be left untouched at those locations for the public to view, or that people take them home to treasure privately. Finders can also visit the website to report the print as being claimed.
A 19-year-old man in the UK has been sentenced to two months in prison for snapping a courtroom photo. Paul Thompson was sitting in a public gallery last week — the defendant was a friend who was on trial for robbery — when another friend texted him to ask where he was. Thompson decided to snap a picture with his Blackberry to explain why he couldn’t talk, but was quickly arrested by officers who noticed what he was doing. He was then sentenced to two months in prison for “contempt of court” by Judge Barbara Mensah, who wanted to send out a strong message:
There are notices all around the court building about not taking photographs in court. This is a serious offence and the message must go out that people cannot take photos.
Although two months in jail seems harsh, it could have been worse: CBS News notes that the law gives the courts the right to jail someone for up to two years for photography.
It looks like all the negative news stories about photographers’ rights in the UK is finally causing some positive change — private security guards across the nation are being instructed (for the first time) to exercise some common sense when stopping and questioning picture-takers:
Detective Sergeant David Parkes, a counter-terrorism advisor at the Metropolitan Police, has instructed private security staff to consider why a terrorist planning an attack would openly take photos in locations that can be readily viewed on the internet.
‘Why would a terrorist put himself at risk of being caught if he can get [the image] by logging onto Google,’ said DS Parkes [...]
[...] Parkes replied that the type of equipment is of ‘no significance’ to the risk a person may be planning a terrorist attack, adding that he believed ‘the bigger the camera, the less likely they are going to do anything [suspicious] with it’.
On June 21, 2011, non-profit organization Shoot Experience sent out six photographers to various parts of London to see the current state of photographers’ rights.
Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4.
All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers.
The result? Every one of the photographers was confronted at least once, and in three cases the police were called.
“Tombstoning” is what people in the UK call jumping into water from a cliff upright and feet first, like a tombstone. If you have a friend gutsy enough to do this, try shooting multiple exposures as they’re falling and combine them into a single image. Photographer Alastair Sopp captured the beautiful image above of a nameless daredevil jumping from a 100 foot cliff into 20 feet of water (yikes!).