Using images of magazines on my website

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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AndrewL
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Using images of magazines on my website

Post by AndrewL » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:33 pm

Hi,

Can I use images of magazine front covers on my website in my publication section, to show which magazines I have been published in? Or would this be a breach of copyright?

Ultimately, I was hoping to use an image of the magazine alongside a link to the content on my website.

Thanks

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:01 pm

Hi Andrew
As you are probably aware, the key word in determining whether any copying may infringe copyright is whether it is 'substantial'. The way this is normally determined is whether the bit which is copied represents sufficient of the core or heart or essence of the whole work. So for example if I published an image showing the face of the Mona Lisa that would be a sustantial part but if I reproduced a small part of the background of the same painting, that probably would amount to an insubstantial part because it is less important and less distinctive. Of course the Mona Lisa was never protected by copyright as it was painted roughly 200 years before the world's first copyright legislation, but serves as an example.
So taking your question, the cover of a magazine is not really the core of it but it does serve to advertise the contents so it acts a bit like a newspaper headline, to draw the reader in. And we know from various recent legal decisions (for example NLA v Meltwater and Infopaq) that copying a newspaper headline can in certain circumstances amount to a substantial part of the whole article, and so would be infringement. On that basis I think that what you propose could technically amount to infringement, unless the images you reproduced where very low resolution and clearly designed just to advertise the fact of your having a contribution in the magazine. On that basis you should be able to use a defence which has worked for Google in the past (although not in the UK courts) that providing a small thumbnail amounts to fair dealing for the purposes of review. This is not the strongest of arguments and is untested in the UK courts, but given that I don't think most magazine publishers would be that concerned about a technical infringement like this, I think it might be a reasonable way to proceed. The worst you may face is a cease and desist letter which, if you comply with it, would probably be the end of the matter. A magazine publisher could not argue any significant financial harm was being caused by you displaying these images because of course they will not be expecting any further sales (apart to odd individual backnumber order) of the particular editions you want to portray.
Alternatively you could write and get permission which would certainly avoid all doubt.
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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