Photograph Copyright Infringement in the UK

Justin Fielder's copyright in his image (top) was deemed to have been infringed by Nick Houghton's image (bottom).
Justin Fielder's copyright in his image (top) was deemed to have been infringed by Nick Houghton's image (bottom).
Digital Photography Review notes that «Amateur Photographer» magazine has published an interesting story about a copyright infringement case of similar, but not directly copied, images. “The issue of copyright is thorny, contentious and often misunderstood but this case sheds some light on the current attitude of courts in the UK,” writes «DPReview». “Despite significant differences between the two images (there was no implication that the second image was a duplicate of the first), the court found that the second image copied substantially from the ‘intellectual creation’ of the first (that is the elements that can be protected by copyright in the original image, including a consideration of the composition, lighting and processing of the image). «Amateur Photographer» quotes photographic copyright expert Charles Swan as saying: ‘The judgement should be studied by anyone imitating an existing photograph or commissioning a photograph based on a similar photograph.’

Meanwhile, Jane Lambert – a barrister specialising in intellectual property law – has written an excellent blog post on the case, in which she concludes ‘although I follow the logic I feel very uneasy at Judge Birss’s decision in Temple Island. It seems to come very close to protecting copyright in an idea as opposed to expression.’