UK Police Issue Copyright Takedown Over Speed Camera Photos

from the incentive-to-create? dept

Another day, another example of copyright being misused. This one, sent in by JJ, involves police in the UK demanding that certain speed camera photos be taken offline as copyright violations. They're apparently pissed that a guy who used the photos to prove that the cameras are faulty has posted his story (with the photos) online:
"The content of these photographs are the property of Sussex Police and publication of them is a breach of copyright. They should be removed from the website forthwith. If they are not removed further action may be contemplated."
The real issue is that the guy who posted the photos is one of a growing number of folks who have discovered that, if you know a little bit of math, you can often show that the speed cameras were flat-out wrong.

Copyright is a gov't granted exclusive right solely for the purpose of creating incentives for works that otherwise wouldn't be created. I can't see how that applies to police speed camera photos at all -- which seem to have a different incentive to "create," whether it's to make the roads safer (the official explanation) or to raise money from speeding tickets (the real reason). Neither one of those requires copyright at all. And, of course, posting the images hardly seems like it should be a violation of copyright. The whole thing is obviously being used to stifle free speech because the police department doesn't like it, not because there's any sort of reasonable copyright claim.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    The whole thing is obviously being used to stifle free speech because the police department doesn't like it, not because there's any sort of reasonable copyright claim.

    But copyright never infringes free speech, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    lavi d (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    They're apparently pissed that a guy who used the photos to prove that the cameras are faulty has posted his story (with the photos) online:

    This guy needs to move to Tiburon...

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Stephen, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    I live in a small town in Tennessee that has just installed traffic light cameras at 2 of the 3 traffic lights in the town. The city council explanation of the cameras is to make the intersections safer. Which I consider to be total bs. Said council nor the company (Trafficpax) which installed the cameras have provided any data to back up their claim of prevention of accidents. I find it interesting that the for-profit company installed the cameras free of charge and will take 60 percent of each ticket issued. I don't think there has even been an accident at either intersection in 2 years. I just wanted to inquire what strategy, if any, might I take, short of destroying the camera itself, to get rid of them.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    As long as the cameras have nothing to hide they shouldn't worry about the photographs being shown.

     

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  5.  
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    vastrightwing, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Don't remove the photos

    simply cover the actual light so they can't claim you're violating a "copyright". They can't possibly pretend to copyright the landscape!

     

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  6.  
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    TSO, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Isn't it very smart of UK police to attract public attention to the faults of their technology through this? Streisand effect, anyone?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re:

    Shine a powerful laser pointer at the lens (you know, one of those sold @thinkgeek.com). That usually burns the imaging chip without causing any physical damage to the camera.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Richard, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re:

    Put a model of the Korean War memorial on the back of your car!

    Then inform Gaylord if you get a ticket.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Since the cameras are for profit, shouldn't some modeling dividends be given to the drivers?

     

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  10.  
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    crashoverride, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Hmmm maybe the argument that evidence cannot be copyrighted. Or how about he bought the photos as part of his fine. Or show us the Copyright that you (haven't) been granted)The phrase the truth will always come out comes to mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re:

    I don't know how it is in the UK but in the US there is a good argument for fair use since they are commenting on the pictures. The cops are also a government organization so they can't hold a copyright. But, again, that's the US not the UK (and we see how well that works in the US anyways).

     

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  12.  
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    NullOp, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Strike a blow for freedom

    paintball gun

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    I was going to say that as evidence for use in a trial, don't they come under the heading of public records? But again, it's the UK, not the US, so who knows.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    So what would happen

    if the photos were published on a US website? Even if the Sussex Police claimed copyright could it be defended by US fair use, or 1st amendment grounds. Hell even by the Declaration of Independence and/or the Treaty of Paris? :)

     

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  15.  
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    teknosapien, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    If the funding

    Came from the local taxes levied against the people that live there are they not in essence the owners of said pictures?

     

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  16.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    I just wanted to inquire what strategy, if any, might I take, short of destroying the camera itself, to get rid of them.

    find out how much the 40% of the camera tickets net for the city annually and offer to pay the city more than that amount for a year with no cameras.

    speed cameras are about revenue, plain and simple. you want the cameras gone, you have to provide more revenue to the town than the cameras do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    Slam on the brakes at those intersections. Get the folks behind you to rear-end you. An increase in accidents at those intersections will show that the cameras are more a probelm than a solution.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    Find out relevant laws dealing with yellow period, and time the yellow period to make sure that the camera is legal, as there is an incentive to lower the yellow period of such cameras.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Pure Evil, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 4:56pm

    Clean that camera!

    Speed cameras get dirty due to exposure to weather and the environment.

    So it is your duty as a good citizen/subject to attach some steel wool to the end of a long stick, and clean the camera's windows. To do a better job, wet the steel wool with ammonia to clean plexiglass, and dental flouride treatment gel to clean glass windows.

    >:D

     

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  20.  
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    GHynson, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Pay Back

    I say,..hook up with the mayors daughter, and have the red light take a picture of you two F&*@ing in the back seat of a convertable as your friend runs the red light. Then post it on the web as copyright photos.

     

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  21.  
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    JB, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:35pm

    I just wanted to inquire what strategy, if any, might I take, short of destroying the camera itself, to get rid of them.

    The city council members are elected, aren't they?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 3:52am

    Re: So what would happen

    If you made your car a work of art, then copyright wouldn't cover that particular part of the photo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Joe Dirt, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 4:01am

    My comment

    Oh you have got to be kidding,this story is so silly!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    ..., Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:28am

    Welcome to the machine

    They do not care about your guilt or not ...
    just pay the fine like a good robot.

    Shuffle along your merry way,
    do not look and have a good day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    What about lost sales? Eh? Each person that watches these pictures doesn't buy the police bullshit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Someone, Oct 17th, 2009 @ 4:30am

    Re: Strike a blow for freedom

    by NullOp
    paintball gun

    +1 for a paintball gun. Throw in a ski mask for bonus points and extra protection.

    All honesty, this is just flat out silly and frankly a waste of the UK tax payers money to even issue copyright warnings, let alone an actual suit.

    So when do millions of these photos get stolen out of the backseat of some boneheads car? It is the UK after all - wont take long I am sure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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