Copyright issues re a picture framing web site

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Chris K
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Copyright issues re a picture framing web site

Post by Chris K » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:20 pm

I’m a website designer. I’ve created and manage a web site for a picture framer. I've since realised that there may be a copyright issue with what he's asked me to do.

He buys, mounts, frames and sells all the following as framed pictures. Alternatively, some are just mounted (no glass or frame). They are sold online from his site (plus from other sites and at exhibitions). The sales value is less than £100.
1. Original art
2. Prints
3. The front of greetings cards

In addition the web site features some of the commissions he’s been given - these may be photographs, maps, paintings etc. I have asked him to get permission from his customers before I put the images on the web site, and he assures me that they have given permission. I thought this was all that was necessary, but I read something recently which made me wonder if there was a copyright issue with the artist, map publisher, photographer etc.

Your advice on these issues would be appreciated.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:14 pm

Hi Chris,

I think you right to be cautious about this. As a picture framer, he is not copying anything and so he doesn't need to worry much about getting permission for the work he does. But copying his finished framed work in order to put it in the website will amount to infringement if it done without permission and the work concerned is covered by copyright. It is also wise to assume that virtually every graphic work which has been brought in for framing is in fact still in copyright. Even what appear to be old nineteenth century maps or art works may well be modern digital copies which could attract copyright.

Assuming that it is he supplies you with the digital images of his finished frames and he has assured you he has the necessary permission, you would have a good defence as a secondary infringer (ie someone who publishes an infringing image (see section 23 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act) but this is by no means foolproof and you really ought to get the framer to indemnify you against liability, in writing, that everything he supplies to you has had the necessary permission obtained. It is highly unlikely that with commercial products such as posters, prints or greetings cards, such permission will be easily obtained and his customers won't be the ones to give permission in such cases. Furthermore, it will be the suppliers of these goods who are most likely to find the images of their work on the website and want to take further action.
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

Chris K
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Post by Chris K » Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:19 pm

Thank you, Andy. I think it slipped past my radar initially because of art galleries, auction houses and places like ebay all showing images of framed pictures for sale. Do you think copyright owners turn a blind eye if they know the image is going to be online for a temporary period only and for the purpose of re-sale, rather than as a permanent decoration for the site?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:51 pm

Ebay, auction houses and galleries who display images of the works they are selling for artists or clients are able to take advantage of a special provision found in section 63 CDPA expressly designed for this purpose. The same exception would not apply to the picture framer who is of course just advertising his frames.
63 Advertisement of sale of artistic work.

(1) It is not an infringement of copyright in an artistic work to copy it, or to issue copies to the public, for the purpose of advertising the sale of the work.

(2) Where a copy which would otherwise be an infringing copy is made in accordance with this section but is subsequently dealt with for any other purpose, it shall be treated as an infringing copy for the purposes of that dealing, and if that dealing infringes copyright for all subsequent purposes.

For this purpose “dealt withâ€￾ means sold or let for hire, offered or exposed for sale or hire, exhibited in public, distributed or communicated to the public.
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

Chris K
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Post by Chris K » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:01 pm

I understand, thanks again Andy.

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