English Heritage Organization Claiming It Holds Effective Copyright On Any And All Photos Of Stonehenge

from the stoned-henge dept

Every so often we hear of groups or organizations taking a rather expansive view of copyright law, but English Heritage, a UK gov't-backed organization to (you guessed it) promote English heritage and manage various historical sites, may have pushed the extremes to new levels. Boing Boing has the story of how it has sent a letter to a bunch of photosharing and stock photo sites claiming that all images of Stonehenge "can not be used for any commercial interest" and that "all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage." Of course, that's blatantly ridiculous.

One recipient of the letter, the site FotoLibra, is trying to figure out on what legal basis English Heritage is making this claim, noting that Stonehenge "has been their responsibility for 27 of the monument's 4,500 year old history." Of course, just about the only thing this will probably serve to do is make people a lot less interested in visiting Stonehenge, photographing Stonehenge and getting others to go to Stonehenge.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    That may be the point

    "Of course, just about the only thing this will probably serve to do is make people a lot less interested in visiting Stonehenge, photographing Stonehenge and getting others to go to Stonehenge."

    Considering that visitors are the greatest threat to the monument, I have to wonder if that's their real intent.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    I hope that somewhere an ancient society of druids who know the real purpose of Stonehenge are laughing their collective asses off at these 'posers'. After all, the druids were excluding people from Stonehenge before it was cool.

    Not that I believe this, but it made me giggle.

     

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  3.  
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    Gilbert, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    Gilbert's a sellout that needs more $$$$

    I say we all chip in and hire Gilbert Gottfried to tell them to go fark themselves...

     

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  4.  
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    vbevan (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Do google get a letter too?

    Considering google get money from their maps/street view app indirectly via ads, will they be getting a letter too. Why go to stock images after all, the street view of Stonehenge is just amazing, not to mention the 100+ visitor photos also accessible through google maps view of the site.

    You can even street view from inside of the structure. I'm guessing it's a bunch of 50+ yr olds who just took their fundraising cake sale a little too far.

    http://goo.gl/e68b

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    So copyright is not just an incentive to "people" to make more art?

    I'm shocked!

     

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  6.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    "an ancient society of druids who know the real purpose of Stonehenge are laughing their collective asses off at these 'posers'."

    Druid #1 - Hey dude what do you want to do today?

    Druid #2 - Lets go out to that big field and build a huge outhouse.

     

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  7.  
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    md1500 (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    What will this mean for Spinal Tap?

     

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  8.  
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    Joe: Pictorial, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    A funding problem solved

    If NASA could claim similar rights over any arial image of the US, I think their funding problems would be solved.

    Either that, or Terra Incognito and images of sea serpents on maps would make a stunning comback.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Re: That may be the point

    Query, how do you know that it's a monument? And, what is it a monument to?

     

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  10.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Huh?

    I remember reading on a website of a band I like that they owned the copyright on all images taken at their concerts. It'd be kind of like me claiming to own copyright on their songs simply because I listened to them.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Re: A funding problem solved

    Sigh, the problem with getting old is that I miss the sea serpents on maps.

     

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  12.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: That may be the point

    A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of past events.

    Ask a Druid.

     

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  13.  
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    Alimas (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: That may be the point

    What would YOU use a henge for?

     

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  14.  
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    Karl (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    Look at it from their point of view...

    The purpose of copyright law is to promote progress, right? Without absolute control over every conceivable image, how will religious groups be encouraged to build more mysterious stone monuments?

    Think about it - the sphynx is 5000 years old, stonehenge is 4500 years old, and the moai statues of Easter Island are only 500 years old. While these once were obviously commonly built, there haven't been any mysterious stone monuments built in centuries! It's quite obvious that the lack of copyright is what's preventing more of these sort of things from being created - just like it's the lack of pirates that's causing global warming!

    We must encourage groups like to EHO to make these claims - it's the only way to get people to contribute to our culture!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: That may be the point

    The Romans wiped out the original Druids, all that remain are an echo of the past.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Missed my chance!

    I knew I should have claimed copyright to all pictures of the Taj Mahal!

    I'd be rich! Bwahahaha!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    English Heritage Organization Claiming It Holds Effective Copyright On Any And All Photos Of Stonehenge

    It doesn't, but that still does not keep claims like this from being made every now and then regarding this and numerous other well-known landmarks.

     

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  18.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: That may be the point

    "Straw henge, and wood henge, but a big bad wolf came and blew them down."

    No one goes though that kind of work for any other reason that to make a monument.

     

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  19.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Fantastic comments!

    I really like a couple of the comments in the boingboing article:

    redsquare said:

    I thought everyone knew that cameras, or 'Photonic Rippers', are used only to pirate and profit off the stolen reflected light.

    I guess stonehenge is one of those "No derivative works" things, though I didn't know you could claim ownership on the output of a program, I mean, rock.

    and xzzy added:

    Technically, they're profiting off the capture of photons reflected off Stonehenge. Those beams of light would have reflected off the structure whether a camera had been there or not, so there's no way one can reasonably argue that it generates a maintenance burden.

     

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  20.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Fantastic comments!

    Oops, xzzy's comment is here.

     

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  21.  
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    Prashanth (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    It isn't the first time

    I remember rereading a few years ago Roald Dahl's publication of the story about Gordon Butcher and the Mildenhall Treasure. Basically, a man named Gordon Butcher accidentally stumbled upon ancient Roman silverware when plowing another man's field for-hire. Due to English law at that time, despite the fact that the silverware was found on private property, it (all gold and silver items) had to go to the Crown's museum. This is certainly pathetic, but it isn't the first such occurrence of a British national entity claiming ownership over things that clearly aren't theirs.

     

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  22.  
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    Call me Al, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re: It isn't the first time

    Prashanth I'm afraid that isn't quite accurate.

    The law at the time in the UK meant that the finder and / or the landowner would receive payment of the value of the treasure. They didn't just pinch it.

    Though it is quite possible that the finder could have received more money on the open market.

     

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  23.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: That may be the point

    What does that have to do with anything?

     

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  24.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 9:50pm

    Been to Stonehenge, taken numerous pictures of it and of the buriel hill on the other side of the highway too.

    I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to "English Heritage" for explaining that these photos not only hold personal sentimental value but also it seems high commercial value as well.

    I mustr contact them and ask if they would like to purchase copies of them for their archives, at a reasonable price and since copyright (even under UK law.. ie: Act of Queen Anne) retains with the original photographer (oh thats myself) I will then place them up for sale and expect a nice little money earner over the next few years.

    WOOT!

    Might even make a T-Shirt..

    "I went to Stonehenge.. took a photo and made this T-shirt..Wanna buy one?"

    ;)

     

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  25.  
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    Jeremy D Brooks, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:00pm

    Like a Dan Brown Novel

    If you go back far enough, you'll find a lineage link between the Druids and the people that run Burning Man. I just know it. There's something deep and sinister afoot here.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:51pm

    Are they going to sue Hanna-Barberra? Stonehenge is actually the support for a highway offramp in the original Flintstones intro, as I recall.

     

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  27.  
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    RCasha (profile), Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:08pm

    Your rights are belong to us

    The Astronomical Society wishes to inform the public that any photograph featuring any star, planet or cosmic object are hereby the property of the Astronomical Society.

    In addition, the unauthorised use of light from any star is strictly forbidden.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Huh?

    It's kinda not.

     

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  29.  
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    Dodgy Geezer, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:56am

    Re: Your rights are belong to us

    ...That includes the Sun....

     

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  30.  
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    Alan B (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:07am

    The Druids did not build Stonehenge.

    It was there for a thousand years before they showed up.

     

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  31.  
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    Perhaps, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:47am

    olders photos

    Can they lay claim to photos taken before their stewardship began, say 30 year old photos?

    Ridiculous claims to make...

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:56am

    UK Copyrights

    I wish you would remember that we are subjects of the Queen in the UK. Copyright in the UK is nothing to do with furthering the Arts.
    It is a consession by the Her Majesties Government that we are allowed to copy some things. It is just that English Heritage (a QUANGO - part of the Government) have decided that we no longer have the right to duplicate our own photographs of Stonehenge without their permission - particularly if any money is involved.
    Actually with all the Government spending cuts they are probably desperate to find alternative revenues - expect more clamp downs.

     

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  33.  
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    abc gum, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 5:26am

    In related news:
    A group wants to set up a collection agency for pictures,
    sort of an ASCAP for photography.

    Film at eleven.

     

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  34.  
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    akallio, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Re: Your rights are belong to us

    > In addition, the unauthorised use of light from any star is strictly forbidden.

    Huh? The sun is a star. We can't grow crops anymore? OTOH, go ahead and shut it off, that'll shut up those global warming freaks.

     

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  35.  
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    dry cleaned lawsuit, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 7:00am

    sue everyone

    I'm confused about how this can be copyrighted. I'm no expert in photography related copyright law, but I do know that copyright's usually expire a few decades after the death of the creator or similar.

    I do like this however. By the same merit, I can send such a copyright notice to anyone who takes a photo of my house and uses it commercially.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 7:50am

    all your photos belong to us

    should i be worried that the myan culture society is going to come and claim my pictures of pyramids in mexico as their property?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Don't See the Problem

    Just because the site is 4500 years old doesn't mean that the photographs are not new art or something along those lines. The rocks are constantly changing even if the human eye can't see it and so Stonehenge as we see it is not that old at all. Therefore, it should be a protected right. Heisenberg uncertainty and all. There.

     

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  38.  
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    Phil Nash, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Freedom of Panorama

    Someone should tell EH about Section 62 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which specifically allows photography of buildings and artworks in public without breaching any copyright.

     

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  39.  
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    timbucks, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 9:43am

    My Brain

    I've just closed my eyes and imagined Stonehenge in all its glory. I don't know how to remove such imagery or place a copyright notice in the bottom right corner of my mental imagery :-(

    Should I just turn myself in now?

     

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  40.  
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    ChoccyHobNob (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Reply from English Heritage

    his document has been sent to you from:

    Ms R L McKellar
    English Heritage
    Customer Services
    Po Box 569
    SWINDON
    SN2 2YP

    Document Precis:

    Dear Mr Xxxxxx,

    Reference: xxxxxxxxx

    Thank you for your email regarding photography at Stonehenge.

    English Heritage looks after Stonehenge on behalf of the nation. But we do not control the copyright of all images of Stonehenge. And we have never tried to do so. We have no problem with photographers sharing images of Stonehenge on Flickr and similar not-for-profit image websites. We encourage visitors to the monument to take their own photographs.

    If a commercial photographer enters the land within our care with the intention of taking a photograph of the monument for financial gain, we ask that they pay a fee and abide by certain conditions. English Heritage is a non-profit making organisation and this fee helps preserve and protect Stonehenge for the benefit of future generations. The majority of commercial photographers respect this position and normally request permission in advance of visiting.

    I am sorry for any confusion caused by a recent email sent to a picture library.

    Yours sincerely

    Rae Mckellar
    Correspondence Team Manager

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Ann, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    If they don't inform the public of their rules, they can't blame is for not playing by them...

    If you ask me, as they fail to mention these 'rules' regarding commercial use of images at the Stonehenge entrance (as well as on their website and at the conditions of entry for the Summer Solstice celebrations), English Heritage shouldn't be complaining.

     

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  42.  
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    Jeffrey A. Williams, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:50am

    English Heritage claims are not reasonable

    Clearly English Heritage are far from reasonable and will not likely be taken very seriously. Perhaps another English government organization needs to take over for English Heritage, and soon.

     

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  43.  
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    Rob Pollock, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Has bureaucracy become completely un-henged?

    This wooly minded nonsense about barring use of Stonehenge photos shows how limited has become the thinking and vision of the bureaucrats. Tourists and travellers might decide to boycott the historic site until the bureaucratic bullies are swept from their offices and replaced by sane and sensible people.

     

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  44.  
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    Rob Pollock, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: That may be the point

    Very useful for stone age swingers ...

     

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


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