Taking Photo of Magazines / Covers and using them in my Blog

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Taking Photo of Magazines / Covers and using them in my Blog

Post by SYMBION1 »


I would like to know where I stand with copyright with the following :

1- I walked into Sainsburys and took a few photos of the magazine stand which displays a wide range of magazines.

2- I then took a few photos of front covers of some magazines displayed on the stand at Sainsburys.

These photos I took using my iPhone and then I typed up my blog entry and inserted the photos I took of the magazine stand and various front covers to illustrate various points in my article - none was defaming or criticized the magazines or publishers themselves.

I was creating my blog article about how magazines can be used as a snapshot to show what society finds socially acceptable in terms of fashion, style etc nowadays.

I then inserted the photos I took to illustrate various points relating to this.

For example - I showed a front cover of a health magazine to show popular types of women's magazine such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan.

I would like to know :

1- Am I breaking copyright law by doing this ?

2- What is the best way for me - to avoid breaking any copyright law or getting sued by publishers - to legallu take photos of these magazine covers - fashion, health, lifestyle, sport etc - to help illustrate points I want to make in my blog article ?

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Post by AndyJ »

Hi symbion1,
Technically photographing a magazine cover would constitute infringment unless the inclusion was purely incidental, that is to say you took a photograph of a general scene and it just so happened there was a newsstand in the backgorund and the magazine covers were visble.
Clearly in you case you deliberately wanted to photograph the covers so we need to look at exemptions which might prevent you from getting sued. That said it is fairly unlikely that a magazine publisher would sue if was clear you were doing this only for the purpose of illustrating your blog article. If a magazine did object, I would expect them to just contact you and ask that the image was removed.
The principal exemption is called fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review (found in Section 30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988). This section also covers news reporting which might also be a description of what your blog does, but you can't rely on that particular aspect because it does not permit the copying of photographs.
Since what you propose to do is clearly a form of review or criticism (this does not necessarily mean just negative criticism) then the only other thing we need to consider is whether copying the covers is 'fair'. Since the way in which the covers display the topics they write about inside is central to your review of what society does or does not accept, then I think using the pictures would count as fair dealing. As an example of what probably could not be classed as fair, imagine that OK magazine got a scoop with a picture of Prince William kissing the Duchess of Cambridge and put it on their front cover. Hello magzine could not reprint the OK magazine cover on their front cover and claim this was fair dealing because their motive would be entirely a commercial one, aimed at boosting their sales, and not because of any claim to be reviewing or providing a critique of the OK cover.
Although it should be obvious from your piece, you need to make sure you acknowledge the works (the magazine covers) which you feature, as this forms part of the fair dealing provision.
If you were in any doubt you could always approach the publisher and ask for permission to reproduce the cover in this way, but so long as you make sure your use is strictly relevant to your blog entry I think you can rely on Section 30.
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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