Using Internet Media and Blog Photographs for an Exhibition

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
Post Reply
ringostarr
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:40 am

Using Internet Media and Blog Photographs for an Exhibition

Post by ringostarr » Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:04 am

Hello,
I would greatly appreciate, if some-one could please help me with the following issue.
We are organising a public exhibition, run by a few non-profit political organisations. There will be no money charged for the exhibition, and its purpose is to be solely for education and raising public awareness. The government will help with the space, and some politicians may even attend (so we need to make sure there is nothing illegal we do).

The objects of the exhibition will be photographs from a certain place in the world, depicting war, destruction, soldiers, etc. Now there are four main sources of these photographs we shall use:

1) pictures taken by unknown people with cell-phones or amateur cameras, that somehow found their way to the internet. For instance a random person took a picture with his phone of tanks being transported at night outside his window. Such images spread in the internet everywhere, and it is often impossible to find who originally took them or posted. Can we use these photos for the exhibition? If yes, do we need to get permission and how can we find whom to ask? Usually such pictures are found in blogs, forums, comments, etc.

2) pictures taken by bloggers, who are not professional journalists, but it is well known who took them. They just post them in their blogs as private persons, and everyone shares them. Do we need to ask for permission for these pictures? If we can't get a reply from the blogger, can we still use them?

3) Unidentified pictures from internet news sites. The problem is that one identical photo usually appears in dozens if not more different internet news sites, without any identification of who owns or who took it. If the same photo is used by many different news sites, how do we know whom to contact for permission?

4) Photographs from well known news websites, like BBC, Deutsche Welle, CNN etc. As I understand we should simply contact them to ask for permission, right?

Thank you!

User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 1942
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:36 am

Hi ringo,
The answer is pretty much the same for all the categories you have listed. Copyright exists in all the images irrespective of who took them and in what circumstances. The person who took the photograph will usually be the present owner of the copyright. In order to use the images you will need permission from the owner, and if that person is unidentifiable*, then it is theoretically impossible to obtain permission. There are a number of exceptions to the general rule, the most relevant for your purposes being the one that allows copyright works to be used for reporting current events, but this does not apply to photographs. The second way around the issue of anonymous works is to apply for an orphan work licence, but this is not a speedy process and could be relatively costly if you have lots of images you wish to use.
The category where you may have most success are those you found via the BBC, CNN etc. In theory these organisations will have already obtained permission so they should know the name of the copyright owner. Alternatively, they may have acquired all the rights, and so can license you to use the images. However many news organisations have a fairly cavalier approach to copyright in images of this sort and often just use ones they find and will pay up when/if the rightful owner comes forward later. (One such example here but there are dozens more).


*If you have the right software, it would be worth checking the metadata which may be embedded in some of the images you have found, as this could identify the authors, even though there are no visible copyright notices.
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

ringostarr
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:40 am

Post by ringostarr » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:51 pm

Thank you AndyJ,

I have read that if one uses pictures for educational purposes, or under "fair use", then one doesn't necessarily need necessarily to obtain the permission. Could the given case of the exhibition qualify as "educational" or "fair use"?

User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 1942
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:26 pm

Hi ringo,
The exception for educational purposes is fairly narrowly defined in Section 32:
32 Things done for purposes of instruction or examination.

(1) Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is not infringed by its being copied in the course of instruction or of preparation for instruction, provided the copying—
  • (a) is done by a person giving or receiving instruction,

    (b) is not done by means of a reprographic process, and

    (c) is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement,
and provided that the instruction is for a non-commercial purpose.
And elsewhere in the Act (section 174) the term educational establishment etc is defined as:
174 Meaning of “educational establishmentâ€￾ and related expressions.

(1) The expression “educational establishmentâ€￾ in a provision of this Part means—
  • (a) any school, and

    (b) any other description of educational establishment specified for the purposes of this Part, or that provision, by order of the Secretary of State.
and so I don't think your public exhibition would come close enough to qualify under this exception.
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

ringostarr
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:40 am

Post by ringostarr » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:59 am

Thank you for the information!

Post Reply