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Photograph copyright - for comment/news reporting

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:02 pm
by norwichmuscles
Afternoon all,

I am planning on starting a Youtube channel which focuses on some of the most obscure new stories from around the globe... I intend to summarise the story and then add comedy commentary. For the comedy elements, I may wish to use photographs.

Example excerpt:

"It's similar to how all monks dislike Violence.... Except for one very prominent wrestler" (then show a picture of Hulk Hogan) on screen.

So my questions are:

1. Can I use a copyrighted image for the above comedy use? (Can I claim it as review or criticism?)
2. I assume that although I am doing a 50% news platform/50% comedy, the fact the photo is used in relation to the comedy is OK (I understand you can't use photos under fair terms in news productions??)

In any event, for comedy photographs I will be doing Google image searches and try to use photos which have been licensed for re-use

One more question:

1. I assume UK copyright applies to me, even if for instance I infringed on someones work who is resident in America?

Thanks in advance.[/list]

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:51 pm
by AndyJ
Hi muscles,
That fact that you intend your postings to be comical is not in itself something which provides a fair dealing exemption. When the new category of parody or pastiche has been brought into UK law (in a couple of months, we hope) then arguably what you want to do may come under that heading.

As you say, the news reporting category is not available with regard to photographs, so that just leaves criticism or review, which must be of the work which has been copied or another copyright work. It can't just be criticism of an activity, or news event or lifestyle. On that basis I don't think section 30 will provide you with any assistance. If you do decide to try and use this fair dealing exemption, don't forget that any use of copyright material must be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement of the copyright owner.

You mention trying to find "photos which have been licensed for re-use". Clearly if you can do this and the licence covers what you propose to do with the image, then there should be no problem about infringement. But be careful to check the licence is valid because if it isn't then, even though you may have an honest belief that the licence is genuine, that will not prevent you from being liable for infringement if it turns out not to be the case. I suggest you look for images which have Creative Commons licences attached, as these tend to be more easily traced back to their authors, and so can help you to check the provenance of the licence.

If you are doing this on Youtube, then US law will be the one applied (for instance if someone wishes to have your channel or individual postings taken down under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act provisions). However if a copyright owner wishes to sue you, then realistically they would have to do this in the UK courts, under UK law. They could sue you in the US courts but any civil sanction applied by a US court (such as damages) could not be enforced against you unless you deliberately put yourself under the jurisdiction of the US court by travelling there.

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:08 am
by norwichmuscles
Many thanks for your comprehensive reply Andy - it has been very well received and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.

Hmnnnnn, it just seems like I'd be running the gauntlet with using copyrighted pictures.

I intend to just use creative common licence pictures and give full prominent credit when using the picture.

Just one last question then......... Could someone class a photo as creative common licence incorrectly? I.e. Is there a risk that I use a creative common licence picture, but still get contacted by someone who disputes the licence etc?...............Any checks I can do around this?

Thanks again!

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:19 pm
by AndyJ
Hi again muscles,
Yes it is quite possible for someone who is not the legitimate owner of the copyright in an image (or any other kind of work) to apply a creative commons licence with the intention of concealing their infringing use of the image, and you would have no defence if you took such a licence at face value.
As I mentioned, one of the advantages of Creative Commons is that it is somewhat easier to track down the real owner of the copyright. For example CC licences which require attribution obviously should have details attached to them of the copyright owner, so at least you have a starting point for trying to locate the owner. Unfortunately there is no central register of CC works.
Another reason to be cautious about this sort of licence is the fact that some images may be in the public domain in one territory but not necessarily elsewhere. For example Wikipedia's wikimedia commons relies heavily upon a controversial US court decision known as Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corp which ruled that photographs of out-of-copyright works of art cannot be protected by copyright as new works. UK jurisprudence does not follow this decision.

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:26 am
by norwichmuscles
Many thanks again for your reply, it has been much appreciated.