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Using my "arrangements/artistic decisions" and pho

 
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Bexxypink
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Joined: 03 Apr 2016
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Location: South West UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:35 pm    Post subject: Using my "arrangements/artistic decisions" and pho Reply with quote

Hi All,

Really need some advice on the following:

At my wedding I hired a company who provided some specific props (china etc). I combined these props with my own handmade items to create the theme for my wedding. (I also own a wedding prop hire / decoration company).

It transpires that whilst the supplier was dropping off the last remaining items they took photos of their own props but also images of mine. Included in these images are photos of me and my husband as children and growing up.

These images have been posted to Facebook on their commercial page and the supplier has mislead customers into thinking that they were responsible for decorating the venue and that they own all the props contained within the images.


I have the following questions:

- Is the company permitted to share images of me and my husband without our consent?

- The supplier was not given permission to take photos on private land, only to drop off goods

- Whilst they took photos of some of their own props, some of my handmade items and items that my business owns were included without credit

- Should I have been asked permission or could I be credited for "arrangement/artistic decisions" as the arrangement of these items were my own work and "owned" by my company

- Who ultimately owns the copyright to these images?

My course of action is to request that the images of me and my husband be removed from any online media / commercial publications in the first instance.

With respect to the other photos, where they contain items that are solely owned by my business that these are either credited to my company or removed.

Where images contain both my own works and that of the supplier, that my company is credited as not to cause my business financial loss.

Lawfully, do you think I have the right to make these requests?

Advice / recommendations welcome.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bexxypink

Let's first tackle the props which you made. Since they were hand-made they could well qualify as works of artistic craftsmanship as long as they were sufficiently novel, ie they aren't items or designs that you copied having seen them somewhere else. The degree to which they were decorated may also be significant, since this will tend to reflect your personality and taste. Assuming that your props meet this threshold of originality then they should qualify for copyright protection, and photographing them without permission may well infringe the copyright.

Similarly the photographs of you, your husband and children will be protected by copyright (yours if you took the pictures, or the photographer's who did) and therefore reproducing them without permission could also infringe. Furthermore there is special protection for photographs which are taken for private and domestic use, contained in section 85 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act. So assuming that you haven't also published the same photographs on social media, it may well be that this company has infringed your right to privacy in this respect.

But in addition to copyright there are several other bits of the law which apply here. The Data Proetction Act (DPA) is increasingly being used to prevent the misuse of personal data (which can include photographs), but better protection is provided by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, enshrined in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). This entitles a person to respect for private and family life. It has been used very effectively in recent times to prevent the publication of images of children, even where the children are in a public place. You can read more about this here and here. Because both the DPA and HRA are outside the scope of this forum, I won't expand on those aspects here, other than to say they probably offer you the strongest basis for your claim against this company.

What is more, you are not the first to have your wedding gatecrashed by unwanted photographers. It happened to Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones in 2000 and they successfully sued the magazine Hello! for publishing the pictures. That case involved yet another part of the law, namely breach of confidence. That would certainly be relevant in your case as these photographs were taken without permission.

And of course the company are using misleading advertising, which although it may not necessarily be actionable in law (it doesn't sound as if it would meet the standard for criminal deception), you could complain to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The main reason why the HRA etc is helpful here is that with copyright infringement on its own, there is the possibility that the company could argue that your props and photographs were only included incidentally, that is to say these items did not form the main subject of the photographs and just happened to be in shot. The fact that the company had no permission to take any photographs of the venue probably wouldn't be taken into account here. You seem to indicate that some of the photographs they took only show either your props or your family photos, in which case the incidental inclusion exception would not apply.

So on the basis of all these separate factors, you have a good claim against this company. Given the strength of your case, you can therefore ask for whatever action you wish to be taken. You can demand that the photographs are removed from all their publicity material, or you can demand a suitable credit where applicable, assuming that's what you want, or in theory you could seek damages. You didn't mention financial compensation so I assume this is less important, and any case this would be a costly route to go down and I wouldn't advise it if you get the redress you want in another way. However the threat of court action lies behind all your demands and so you should decide at an early stage what your strategy will be if the company fails to respond positively to your letter of complaint. Embarking on litigation is expensive, time-consuming and stressful, so you should have that at the back of your mind if this company decides to stick two fingers up, metaphorically speaking. Irrespective of their response, you can pursue a complaint with the ASA and you can send a take-down notice to Facebook.

And finally you asked who ultimately owned the copyright in the photographs they took. Assuming there is any copyright at all, then the company would own it, but that doesn't mean that they can use the images however they want. If a photograph infringes the copyright of an underlying work (say the pictures of you and your husband) then copyright does not apply to the derived image.
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Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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Bexxypink
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Joined: 03 Apr 2016
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Location: South West UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:20 am    Post subject: Thank you so much Reply with quote

Andy,

Thank you so much for your comprehensive and clear reply, your support has been invaluable.

Thank you
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