Cost of copyright licence

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French Marigold
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Cost of copyright licence

Post by French Marigold » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:10 pm

I saw a photo of rooftops in a national newspaper to illustrate an article that I would like to use as the basis for a painting. I don't do realism and I don't slavishly copy (I don't trace or use a grid) so the resulting painting would look less like the photo and more of an impression of the place. I eventually found the owner who said it was on the Getty site. I looked at the Getty site but couldn't work out how much the licence would cost for the purpose I had in mind. I contacted Getty and they came back and said it would be £50 but that would only cover my finished painting being exhibited but not sold. I am not a professional artist, I enter work in the local art club exhibition where I do occasionally sell paintings. I was taken aback at the amount as the newspaper can only have paid £90 to use the photo if they printed 100,000 copies of the paper and a lot less if distribution was less. It only costs £75 to get a licence from the Tate to print 1000 leaflets containing a print of a painting by Kyffin Williams. I am only asking to use the photo as a basis for my painting and I was happy to acknowledge the source of the photo. I would have shown the photographer the finished painting so that he could say if he was happy having the painting attributed to his photo. Getty did ask if I was happy with £50 and I said not! How much should I have expected to pay? Obviously if it is £50 I'll forget the whole idea!

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:58 pm

Hi Marigold,
Licence fees tend to be based on several factors, including the popularity/fame of the photographer, the versatility of the image (for instance if it could be used to illustrate a number of different editorial subjects) and the amount to which it has already been used in earlier publications.
As with many things it is a matter of what the market will pay. The fact that you find the image appealing as inspiration for a painting while a newspaper found it ideal to illustrate their article could indicate that it is the sort of image to command a relatively high fee, which is what you consider the £50 charge to be.
Getty are pretty experienced at valuing their market, which is principally the print media and web use, but they may not be quite as in touch with the specialised one-off sort of use you propose. The more so because your use would be to make an adaptation of the work and not a direct, facsimile copy.
But beyond these general comments I cannot really say whether the fee you have been quoted is reasonable or unreasonable in the circumstances, but from the sound of it, you do not feel it is worth it, which is the best test.
While there is nothing to stop you utilising the general idea of rooftops in your painting, be careful not to use a substantial part of this one image, even from memory, to form a part of a future painting, since now that Getty have been made aware of your interest in the photograph, they would have little hesitation in coming after you if at some later stage they feel that a painting of yours has infringed the copyright of a work by one of the photographers they represent, and they do actively trawl the internet and printed media looking for infringing works.
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

French Marigold
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Overpriced licence fee

Post by French Marigold » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:40 am

Thanks AndyJ. I did contact the newspaper and they said the photographer's company supplied the photo so it wasn't a case that the photo itself was so appealing but that it was supplied as fitting the requirement. (There is a similar photo every week in this particular property section of the paper.) I had initially tried to find it on the Getty site and couldn't and neither could a member of the Getty sales team! It may be that the photographer will come back to me and suggest a lower price (any sale must be better than none!). You are right thought, I cannot use the photo without permission so I'll either have to go to the same spot and take my own photo (which could be cheaper than £50!) or forget the idea. This was the first time I had ever thought of painting from someone else's photo and I guess it'll be the last!

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Post by AndyJ » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:12 am

Until about 2 years ago I would have said that taking your own photograph would be entirely safe, but in light of what many think was a strange decision in what is referred to as the Red Bus case, things are not quite as clear cut as they once seemed.
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

French Marigold
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Post by French Marigold » Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:59 pm

Update- the photographer came back to me and said he wouldn't have charged me that much but then went on to say that it had cost him quite a bit to hire a car, buy petrol and take said photo and I (having thought permission would cost about £10 as I was not depriving him of further use of the photo and presumably the newspaper also paid for its use) offered him £15 which he rejected saying he had a business to run. End of story.

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