Clocks and Buildings

Two unrelated issues, the first rather brief.


Firstly a reminder to those – like me – who have yet to adjust the time settings on your cameras to do so without further delay. On my Nikon cameras it only takes a few seconds to go to the Setup menu, select Time Zone and Date and turn Daylight Saving Time to OFF, but it takes a little longer to find anything on the Fuji menus, once you have made them appear on the rear screen. If you have the Local time set for Daylight Saving you then simply have to select Home.

I got up in the middle of my typing above and made the changes on the four cameras I frequently use. Job done until we get the light back next year.


Secondly, photographing buildings, something I was reminded of by an image I shared with the previous post – and here it is again. I’ve just come across a very clear answer to the question of copyright at the IPCopy blog so far as UK law is concerned – with a clear statement that “there is an express exception to copyright infringement under the CDPA 1988 which allows photographs or indeed a film to be made”  and to be published in any way of any building in the UK.

So far, so good. Unfortunately the answer goes on to say that in some cases “in some cases permission may be required to use the photograph” and goes on the mention the Committee of Advertising Practice Code. You can actually find this advice on the ASA web site, where it basically states that buildings and general public locations can be used “without permission so long as they do not denigrate the building or area in question.”  It goes  on to state that recognisable properties owned by “members of the public” require permission.

Perhaps the main area that the IPCopy post does not make clear is the matter of Trademarks, which I’m sure they know far more about than me.  The most interesting discussion I’ve come across of this issue is The London Skyline – an IP view by Leighton Cassidy and Beverley Potts of Fieldfisher LLC written in 2016. In the section on ‘Corporate Branding’ they discuss the use of trademarked buildings suggesting that limitations only apply if the photograph uses the building as a trade mark, or relates to similar goods and services or dilutes or profits from the reputation of the brand.

Although it seems to me that none of these could apply to editorial or most artistic uses of the image, some trademark owners have clearly adopting a bullying approach, threatening any use with expensive litigation. And photo agencies have allowed themselves to be browbeaten into the strictly unnecessary removal of some images.

UK copyright law also has specific exceptions to allow us to photograph and publish pictures of sculptures, models of buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship permanently situated in a public place. I’m not sure what constitutes a ‘work of artistic craftsmanship’, but the legislation makes clear that this does not apply to paintings or literary works, so all those millions of internet posts of graffiti (almost rivalling cats) are at least technically copyright infringements. Though I post some on my own web site, I don’t generally file them with agencies and some at least will not accept them. And I run a cat filter on my Facebook feed.

Unless of course the copyright material is included incidentally, though exactly how that should be interpreted is unclear. Perhaps as a rough rule of thumb you might ask yourself if you would have taken the photograph had that material not been present and if your image focuses (not necessarily literally) on that material. Fortunately also in the UK we have a copyright system where any damages are compensatory rather than punitive, which greatly limits the desire for litigation.

So, aside from a few specific limitations covering military and similar sites you should feel free to photograph any building in the UK (or more or less anything else) and generally to publish those images for non-commercial uses. For commercial use, you and any client need to think more carefully – and I would be very wary about signing any indemnity clauses. But as always with anything involving the law I end with a statement that “I am not a lawyer” (IANAL) and you take my advice and opinions entirely at your own risk.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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