Building/architecture copyright

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by skieur, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    How do you deal with a security cop who comes up to you and says that you cannot take a photo of a particular famous building or structure because it is copyrighted?

    skieur
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  2. Yahoozy

    Yahoozy TPF Noob!

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    calmly accept his statement, appear to leave, and come back when he goes away =P
     
  3. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    I don't know about Canada but in the US:

    No one can restrict you from photographing a copyrighted structure, if you are on public land while taking the photo. If you are on private land, even if it is open to the public, the owner has every right to restrict your photography actions, up to and including kicking your butt out.

    As far as the photo itself, only the owner of the copyright (or their representative....i.e. lawyer) can come after you IF you attempt to use the photo of the copyrighted structure in a commercial manner, like selling it for an ad. Otherwise you are well within your right to take all of the pictures you want of it as long as it is for your personal collection.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Mmmm...the very practical approach. Some logic there, but I think it would be useful to know whether he was right or wrong.

    skieur
     
  5. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    In law public place is defined in terms of accessibility to, by the general public in the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere. It has NOTHING to do with public property or public land. A public place may be private property in law.

    By the way, the owner of the copyright of the photo is the photographer.

    skieur
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008
  6. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    Yes, the copyright to the specific photo that you took.
    But, some structure owners and architects copyright the structure itself, meaning that any depiction of it may not be utilized without said copyright owners permission.
    There are many sports stadiums in the US that are copyrighted. You may take all the pictures of them that you want, but if you attempt to sell these pictures for commercial or advertisement purposes without permission, you will get sued very quickly.

    In this case I was speaking of taking a picture from a public sidewalk of a structure.

    If you were in the parking lot of a shopping mall, taking a picture of the mall, then you would be correct. The parking lot property, open to the public, is owned by the mall, and you can be asked to leave. If you step out of the owners parking lot onto a public sidewalk and take the same picture of the mall, the owner has absolutely zero recourse.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008
  7. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Does copyright protect architecture?
    Yes. Architectural works became subject to copyright protection on December 1, 1990. The copyright law defines “architectural work” as “the design of a building embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings.” Copyright protection extends to any architectural work created on or after December 1, 1990. Also, any architectural works that were unconstructed and embodied in unpublished plans or drawings on that date and were constructed by December 31, 2002, are eligible for protection. Architectural designs embodied in buildings constructed prior to December 1, 1990, are not eligible for copyright protection.

    Now try to remember, taking a picture of a building that has a copyright on it is not a violation of copyright law. It is only if you reproduce it (build another one from the photo) that you would be breaking a copyright. If it is visible from public land and public is allowed access you can take a picture of it. If the picture is taken from publlic space, I belive you can even sell the photo.
     
  8. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    You are correct. Taking a picture of a building that is copyrighted does NOT violate copyright law. It follows however that if you have not violated copyright law then YOU own the copyright to the photo and can do ANYTHING you want with the photo, even sell it. What also needs to be clear is that whether the photo was taken on public or private land is irrelevant. In general terms, the owner has no recourse related to the photo or its use or sale. There are a few common sense exceptions such as a case where a real estate agent who put a photo of a building on his web site, implying that it was for sale or that he had sold it. (Neither of which was true.) I am sure that there are probably some other bizarre exceptions.

    skieur
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
  9. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    An excellent summary by skieur.

    In a similar vein, but not as clear, there's the famous, controversial case of the commercial use of images of the Eiffel Tower's lighting design.

    As an example of clarity in copyright law, the Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 specifically excludes photographs of buildings as an infringement of copyright:

    93.—(1) This section applies to the copyright in—
    (a) buildings, and
    (b) sculptures, models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship, where permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public.
    (2) The copyright in a work to which this section applies is not infringed by—
    (a) making a painting, drawing, diagram, map, chart, plan, engraving, etching, lithograph, woodcut, print or similar thing representing it,
    (b) making a photograph or film of it, or
    (c) broadcasting or including in a cable programme service, an image of it.
    (3) The copyright in a work to which this section applies is not infringed by the making available to the public of copies of anything the making of which is not, by virtue of this section, an infringement of the copyright in the work.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    My impression is that the location of the lights on the tower may be copyrightable but like buildings, unless you physically replicated the design, you would not be violating that copyright and that would make photos NOT a violation.

    The display created by the lights does not meet the copyright requirement of being of "fixed and permanent nature". Just the simple fact that they are not always turned on means that the display is not permanent. Even when turned on, it is not fixed in that it changes with weather, time, age of bulbs and several other factors.

    The French justice system and laws have developed very differently from those of the English however and judgements tend to often have a political rather than judicial "flavour".

    skieur
     
  11. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    I had a little discussion with my brother-in-law last night (attorney, yes the "in-law" is a lawyer....), and he explained it to me this way:

    Say you were walking down the street in Beverly Hills, spotted Alyssa Milano, and took a picture of her. You absolutely do own the copyright to that particular picture, but she still owns the copyright to her likeness. Even though that photo is yours, if you go out and print her picture on T-shirts and sell them, you are likely liable for civil damages if she decides to take action.

    The exact same appies to a copyrighted structure. You fully own that photograph, but cannot utilize it in a commercial manner without the likeness owner's consent.

    None of this applies in a photojournalism sense, however.

    As to the OP, a security guard CANNOT stop you from taking that photograph, the only one who can enforce the copyright is the owner, and that is only if you mis-use it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
  12. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    You can take a photo of anyone in a public place for that matter but t shirts amount to "advertising purposes" refered to as commercial in the copyright act and that requires a model release. You can however use the photo for editorial or artistic purposes for sale, money etc. So you could, as has been done, put street photos of people in a gallery and sell them without any model release. It was tested in american court and the photographer won. A particular photo was sold for $20,000 without a model release. A person does not have a copyright to their likeness except for advertising purposes in most countries in the western world including the US. There are probably a few bizarre exceptional uses which might be viewed differently by a judge but that is the general law.

    You also have not read the American copyright law regarding architecture which reads similar to Helen's example. It explicitly states that taking photos of a copyrighted building does not violate the building copyright. As photographer you OWN the copyright of your photo, not just the photo as you stated. The ONLY legal case where a photographer is NOT the first owner of copyright of his photo is when he is employed by someone else to take the photo and there is no contract to the contrary. Only the architectural design is copyrightable and copying means building another structure with the same design. It does NOT mean taking a photo of the building.

    Since you own the copyright to the photo of the building, if follows that you CAN use it like any other photo that you have taken, sell it, display it, publish it, etc. in an editorial or artistic context and the owner cannot do anything about it. Advertising purposes however may require a release depending on the nature of the photograph and the manner of its use in the ad.

    skieur
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008

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