Copyright abuse over who owns the image of a London red bus

remember this scene from the Bourne Trilogy?

remember this scene from the Bourne Trilogy?

Looking downstream from Hungerford Bridge

Looking downstream from Hungerford Bridge

Looking downstream from Hungerford Bridge

Looking downstream from Hungerford Bridge

Who owns the copyright to the iconic image of a London double-decker red bus?

Who owns the copyright to the iconic image of a London double-decker red bus?

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. — Lauren Weinstein

I take a picture. I get sued for copyright infringement because it is similar to another picture! Not sued for copyright because I took another’s picture and passed off as my own, not sued because I took an identical picture, but sued because I took a similar picture!

Come on, get real.

In Capturing Lincoln Cathedral (to which I am a contributor), there is a near as identical picture to one I took. Why, I thought, when I saw it, has my picture been attributed to someone else? After a moments reflection, I realised it could not be my picture as I had never given them my picture.

It was uncanny. The person who took it must have seen the scene through the same eyes as mine. Or maybe sheer fluke, they were in the same spot as me, within minutes of me, and took the same picture.

But I did not immediately think, I am onto to a winner here, I must get my lawyers to sue the guy.

Most people take bad pictures. It is easy to see why. They do not have a clue how to take pictures. I see people with expensive cameras, they are clueless how to use them.

The picture I took which is near identical to that in Capturing Lincoln Cathedral, and the others I took that afternoon, did not happen by chance. I had been watching the light, watching the sky. I needed the sun, but at the same time I wanted little white clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky.

Often I walk by a building, see the light, then come back in half an hour, or maybe the next day.

I use other people’s pictures. But not often, and if I do, they are given due credit.

I take photos of works of art. I am careful never to use flash.

We have a natural desire to share. If I see a good work of art (and sadly there is so much crap), I want to share my find. I do not claim as my own. The artist benefits as their work reaches a larger audience.

That is why Sopa was so bad. It was a crude attempt by greedy Hollywood and the music industry to control the net.

Paulo Coelho calls on readers to pirate books
Promo Bay
The cultural industry
Documented@Davos: SOPA Panel
Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa

There is a man who has found posters, maybe WWI, maybe earlier, quite common, in the public domain for years, and yet this man has claimed copyright and sues anyone who uses them.

The red double-decker bus is the icon the world over for London. Some jerk has tried to claim copyright of a London red bus! And that is how the current copyright dispute has arisen. Two pictures, by no means identical, of a London bus on or near Westminster Bridge.

Photographers face copyright threat after shock ruling

UK souvenir maker Temple Island Collection Ltd has won a ruling against New English Teas which it had accused of breaching copyright by using a photo of a London red bus on its packaging!

The judgement in this case makes an ass of the law.

One of my favourite views in London, is standing on Hungerford Bridge and looking downstream. The City of London with St Paul’s forms the skyline. I noticed London Red Buses running across the next bridge, Waterloo Bridge. Perfect I thought, a Red Bus and St Paul’s.

I used to regularly catch the No 38 bus. It was the classic London red bus.

Until this evening I had never heard of this stupid copyright case. Am I now in breach of copyright, I have dared to use a London Red Bus?

We need people to take many pictures of the London red bus and plaster around the net. Will everyone get sued for copyright infringement?

There is a tour company that runs guided tours around London using London red buses. Will they be in copyright dispute if they use images of their own buses in promotional material for their tours?

What of all the little kiosks selling postcards of guess what, London red buses?

What of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. God forbid if they have a poster with a London red bus!

Intellectual property rights is becoming a farce. It was to cover invention, copyright and patents were there to protect ownership. I compose a piece of music, write a book. It is mine and I have the right to earn money. I own what I have created.

It was never meant for discovery. Galileo did not look through a telescope and claim copyright for what he saw. He could have charged to look through his telescope, charged for telescopes, but not charged others to look with their own telescopes at what he was looking at, claiming what he had found as his own, sole world rights.

We have Big Pharma going into Brazil into the rainforests of the Amazon, and claiming the gene sequences of the plants they find, often even claiming as their own traditional medicines.

Biopiracy and Intellectual Property Rights

There was a case a few years ago when an attempt was made to patent the neem tree!

We have copyright being claimed for what hereto has been in the public domain.

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4 Responses to “Copyright abuse over who owns the image of a London red bus”

  1. Bhima Says:

    hold on, surely if anyone holds copyright on any image of a London Red Bus it would be and must be TFL?? but if you take it an absurd step farther.. consider the ruling in the French court regarding furniture, if ownership of the product does not grant the privilege of capturing its image, then surely the same applies to London buses, in which case the copyright of the image rests exclusively with the manufacturer of the bus.. in which case the photographers are full of crap and Volvo or Mercedes or SCANA or MANN hold the copyright to any and all images of their product..

    copyright law was brought in to protect people’s inventions.. to stop some person palming off another persons work as their own.. that is the spirit of copyright law.. I take pictures all the time.. photography is a rare art from which combines luck and skill together, in that one must be in the right place at the right time to get the perfect shot.. surely a photograph more than anything else will always be unique simply because the moment in time and the relative position in space to the scene will always be unique. therefore copyright cannot possibly apply.. however uncanny a resemblance might exist between two pictures..

  2. keithpp Says:

    that is bloody ridiculous… Isn’t it just! Are we breaching Gustave Eiffel s copyright if we take a pic of the tower then! STUPID. — Pierre Giraud

    Presumably that ruling would apply to clothing as well. Be thankful it only applies en France. — Edmundo Ventolera

    The ruling on the London red bus, as with the ruling in the French Courts on Le Corbusier furniture, is clearly nonsense.

    Both are to be appealed and we can only hope common sense prevails.

    In the meantime I suggest people post images all over the net. What are they going to do, sue us all?

    That is why it is essential Acta is killed stone dead.

    I was in Covent Garden last week, I meant to look in the Transport Museum (assuming it is still there), but lacked the time.

    Copyright was intended to protect intellectual property rights (and confer a monopoly) but it is now being abused by Big Business. Patent rights on Neem Tree, plants in the Amazon, traditional medicine. It was never meant for discovery. Nor to stop us photographing what we see.

    Passing off another’s photo as ones own is clearly infringing on their property rights, taking ones own picture, composition, light etc is not.

  3. Steve Says:

    I wonder if the photographer of this bright red London tram in a similar position could sue the buscuit company?

  4. keithpp Says:

    We are in a ludicrous situation where copyright is being claimed for all sorts of situations. Shame on the judge for ruling in favour of the photographer who claimed rights to images of a London Red Bus.

    We have the big record labels accusing people of theft when all they are doing is sharing music. Theft of intellectual property would be if I took a song from someone else and passed it off as my own, sharing is not.

    Wonderful pictures of London trams!

    Maybe I should claim copyright for images of iconic red telephone boxes, or how about red post boxes?

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