Photographs of Paintings

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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BumblyBee
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Photographs of Paintings

Post by BumblyBee » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:49 am

I have for most of 2012, been taking photographic images of paintings, for an artist I was introduced to by my partner (who at the time was helping him out by building a website). These are new paintings by a not very well known artist. Primarily taken to be displayed on the website, but also to be used for promotion in other ways if necessary. I have all the original hi-res files.

The artist verbally said i would to retain copyright on the photos I took. I kind of assumed this would be the case anyway as I took the photos.

However, the business relationship has soured between the artist and my partner. I shan't go into details and I have not yet been asked about the images at all, but I do want to make sure that I am correct in thinking about the copyright ownership here.

Look forward to any advice. Thanks.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:50 am

Hi BumblyBee,
There should be no problem about you owning the copyright in the photographs you took. From what you have said, consent was given at the time and this cannot be rescinded at a later stage, once the pictures have been taken. If your partner was a witness to the artist's original agreement (which I assume was verbal) then you ought not to be faced with a situation where it is your word against the artist's. I think the fact that this was done for the purposes of putting the photographs on a website makes it clear that the artist gave his permission.
UK law recognises that photographs of paintings normally involve sufficient skill and artistic judgement on the part of the photographer to gain copyright as separate works from the original. However in the USA this tends not to be the case as the new image is not deemed to be sufficiently original, following a landmark case there called Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corp.
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

BumblyBee
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Post by BumblyBee » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:01 pm

Oooops, probably should of said I was in the UK in my first post.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer, that has confirmed what I already was thinking.

dquelhas
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What if there was no consent?

Post by dquelhas » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:03 pm

So what would happen if you just saw a painting you liked and take a picture and the artist was not there? Say for example, a street artist? In the UK :D

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:11 pm

Hi dquelhas,
Taking a picture of a copyright piece of art without permission would normally be infringement. However much will depend on what you wanted to do with the image your took. For instance if it was just for your own private collection of interesting things you had seen, such as street art or graffiti, then section 29 will probably provide adequate protection against being sued:
29 Research and private study.
(1) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
(1B) No acknowledgement is required in connection with fair dealing for the purposes mentioned in subsection (1) where this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise.
(1C) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of private study does not infringe any copyright in the work.
And where the street art etc was anonymous, Section 29 (1B) would apply.
However if you tried to publish or otherwise make your photographs available to the public then the fair dealing defence steadily falls away, and ceases completely if what you are doing is for commercial purposes. And on a practical note, if the artist hasn't seen you take the photograph he is unlikely to object, but if it comes to his attention, say via the internet, then clearly he may be prompted to protect his rights.
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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