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Author Topic: Question on copyright.  (Read 3410 times)

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« on: December 21, 2013, 15:17 »
The Trevi fountain in Rome or a Town Hall on an island in Scandinavia - can these be commercially featured in a photographer's (non-editorial) stock port?  Or are there specific restrictions/ and copyright issues to clarify with regards to landmarks, monuments, buildings etc?

Shutterstock (most helpfully) posts a list of sites and locations where specific restrictions apply.  However I imagine that this list cant be fully exhaustive - thus bringing back the question - how does one know which locations may be copyright protected.  Are there any general guidelines one can follow?


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2013, 16:09 »
Always remember that it is the buyer and users responsibility to decide if an image can be used in the way they plan to use it. To take your example, lets assume the Trevi Fountain is trademarked (it is too old to be copyright). That image could be used in a travel article about Rome, but it could not be used to support an advert about a water feature installer. So, how can you, as the photographer know at the time you sell the image?

You can either just say - the use of all images is the responsibility of the buyer, or you could play safe and say Editorial use only. If someone decided to sue you (and they could for any reason), your defense would be better with the editorial warning, but you would still have the costs of defending yourself.

Having said all this, people sue for money, and if you appear to be a penniless stock photographer, why would they bother?



  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2013, 19:43 »
Always remember that it is the buyer and users responsibility to decide if an image can be used in the way they plan to use it.

Alamy has a clause to that effect, but I'm not sure how many of the micros do.


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2013, 22:38 »
I'm not sure you need the clause to be honest - the publisher of an image is the one at risk. It has been shown many times that offering an image for sale is not publishing.


Uncle Pete

« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2013, 23:39 »
Not sure if anyone enforces this but in Italy they have The cultural heritage and landscape law which some people have interpreted to state that all images of historic and state properties have restricted use.

« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2013, 02:13 »
Story from real life:

I had some agencies beginning to reject my images of bridges and road signs for property issues.
I got tiered of it, so I contacted the "Ministery of transportation" and they issued me a property release on "All publicly owned infrastructure, such as harbors, bridges and roads in the Kingdom of Denmark"

Nice piece of paper to have. I havent had any problems since.

You could do the same.


  • Those that don't stand up to evil enable evil.
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2013, 14:13 »
In 2009 I contacted the Bank of England asking permission to sell images of English Banknotes, including those with images of the Queen.  They basically said the images I had (I sent them copies) were fine and met their criteria; but, that they could not issue an authorization as what I was doing wasn't a final usage.  I took this to mean I could still offer my images as stock, as I was not selling an image for final publication in a specific content, and it was up to whomever purchased them to contact the BoE for permission to use them in whatever specific content they had in mind.  The following is a copy of part of the e-mail they sent me.
"Whilst the image you propose to use would meet our conditions for banknote reproduction, we are not able to issue permission for it to be used in this instance. This is because we do not give a 'generic' permission for banknote images to be used, but rather issue authority for a specific purpose and client.
Therefore, we will have to decline your application. However, going forward if you have a specific use and client for the image to be used you can apply for reproduction permission again with this information

At least that was my interpretation of their position.  Anyone care to comment or offer an alternative interpretation.


  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2013, 15:32 »
I'm not sure how the buyer is supposed to know that a file they legitimately purchased would need specific clearance from the Bank of England. I guess that's caveat emptor, but I don't think it's what buyers expect. I'm sure at least some buy from agencies rather than steal them or use CC images because they assume their use will be legal (beyond stipulations made by the agencies, if they even read these restrictions, which is doubtful in many cases, e.g. the commerical in-uses of editorial files which I have found).

I don't know what other agencies say, but iS particularly says:
"Legal guarantee
Every royalty-free file licensed on iStock includes a free Legal Guarantee. This is our promise that content, used within the terms of the license agreement, will not infringe any copyright, moral right, trademark or other intellectual property right or violate any right of privacy or publicity."
So I'm guessing any buyer would not expect to have to contact the BofE, or any other entity.

So then it boils down to whether, in the event of any legal action, you or the agency would be liable. Again, I don't know what any other agency has in their contract, (presumably the info is findable on the sites), but iStock's ASA says:

"4 Intellectual Property Matters
c The Supplier agrees that neither iStockphoto nor any of its directors, officers, employees, partners, affiliates or agents shall be liable for any damages, whether direct, indirect, consequential or incidental, arising out of the use of, or the inability to use any Content or Description Information, or any error, omission or other matter relating to a model or property release respecting Content or Descriptive Information.

OTOH, their technical wiki (Getty/iStock, hence the reference to RM) specifically says:
"Imagery where currency has been shot flat, or straight-on (where 80% or more of the bill is displayed) would not be suitable for licensing. Furthermore, any series of imagery where the combined content (as a whole) may result in a full product (complete bill) is also not suitable for licensing. Bank notes / bills should not be in full view, nor represented in their exact dimensions.
With the above said, paper currencies that are no longer in circulation may be acceptable for both Creative commercial and Editorial licensing.
Currency featuring the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II is unsuitable for Royalty-Free content, however may be acceptable in Editorial and Rights Managed Content, notwithstanding the above noted restrictions on currency."
« Last Edit: December 22, 2013, 20:10 by ShadySue »


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