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.

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  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 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.

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

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Gilbert, 20 Oct 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...

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

  • icon
    vbevan (profile), 20 Oct 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

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2010 @ 11:05am

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

    I'm shocked!

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

  • icon
    md1500 (profile), 20 Oct 2010 @ 11:35am

    What will this mean for Spinal Tap?

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

  • identicon
    Joe: Pictorial, 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    Pickle Monger (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    Karl (profile), 20 Oct 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!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 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!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    Niall (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    Prashanth (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

    • identicon
      Call me Al, 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 20 Oct 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?"

    ;)

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

  • identicon
    Jeremy D Brooks, 20 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    RCasha (profile), 20 Oct 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.

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

    • identicon
      Dodgy Geezer, 21 Oct 2010 @ 12:56am

      Re: Your rights are belong to us

      ...That includes the Sun....

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

    • identicon
      akallio, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    Alan B (profile), 21 Oct 2010 @ 1:07am

    The Druids did not build Stonehenge.

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

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

  • identicon
    Perhaps, 21 Oct 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...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    abc gum, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    dry cleaned lawsuit, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 21 Oct 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?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Phil Nash, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    timbucks, 21 Oct 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?

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

  • icon
    ChoccyHobNob (profile), 21 Oct 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

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

  • identicon
    Ann, 21 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Jeffrey A. Williams, 22 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Rob Pollock, 25 Oct 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.

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


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