So much for “there’s no copyright in ideas”

Words can’t express how ridiculously, ridiculously stupid this verdict is:

Photographers who compose a picture in a similar way to an existing image risk copyright infringement, lawyers have warned following the first court ruling of its kind.

The images in question are here (PDF) if you fancy a look.






0 responses to “So much for “there’s no copyright in ideas””

  1. Surely there is prior art out there? This type of picture has been around forever, probably even before Photoshop was invented…

  2. Gary

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

    It looks like libel in miniature: faced with a £5K infringement claim, are you going to fight it in court or just roll over?

  3. If you fight it in court, it’ll be the only claim. If you roll over, there’ll be hundreds more.

  4. I am reminded of the cunning ploy the owners of major landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower have come up with. Your building is part of the landscape and everyone’s allowed to photograph it and, if they wish, sell the photos without giving you a cut. So you stick a bloody great bit of original artwork onto your building so that no-one can sell a photograph of the building without infringing the artwork’s copyright. In the case of the Eiffel Tower, they commissioned fancy lighting from an artist so that night-time shots of the Tower now include the copyrighted lighting and you have to pay for the right to sell postcards. Sneaky and nasty.

  5. mupwangle

    I was under the impression that this was the law anyway. A photograph is copyrightable (is that even a word?) and trying to recreate one yourself for commercial purposes was an offence. I’m sure there’s case law for this somewhere – I’ve seen similar things on the flickr forums.

  6. mupwangle

    If you read the judgement, it looks like they’d already settled a case of infringement with a previous image and had deliberately set about recreating a similar image that was just different enough to not be infringing (or so they thought). I would suggest that this only sets a precedent in such circumstances where it can be proved that the infringer was aware of the prior art.

  7. Gary

    Ah, that’s interesting. Casts a very different light on the judgement.