from the ownership-society dept
We’ve written many, many words on the ridiculousness of publicity rights, and how they’re frequently abused to stifle perfectly reasonable activities. But this latest example really takes it up a notch. The owner of a horse in the UK is apparently demanding some of the prize a man won in a “selfie” contest, because the horse made a key “photobombing” appearance in the background, that likely contributed to the victory:
Mitchell said: ?I was really annoyed to hear he had won a £2,000 holiday and had used a picture of our horse without our permission. He should have asked for our consent. There should be some token gesture as it is our horse that has really won them the holiday,? she said.
Mitchell added: ?I didn?t even know that this competition was on. If I had known about it we would have entered and could have won as Betty is always sticking out her tongue.?
There’s plenty to comment on here. First, as you can see, the reward was a holiday trip, and not cash, though apparently there was some confusion over that. So it’s not like it’s easy to “split.” Apparently Mitchell first demanded “half” of the prize. Second, (and importantly) you don’t need permission to photograph someone’s horse, especially when done from a public path. So the whole “without our permission” thing is complete nonsense. A token gesture might be a nice thing to do, but it’s not clear the best way to seek a “token gesture” is to angrily demand half of the prize. Perhaps a friendlier “Hey, that’s my horse, and that’s awesome!” would have been a better approach that would have made everyone happy, leading the Bellises to think about maybe giving something nice in return. Like, a treat for the horse or something.
Finally, the whole “If I had known about it we would have entered and could have won” bullshit, the response is but you didn’t. So stop whining. Perhaps next time such a contest is run you’ll be paying attention and you can answer. The whole response smacks of serious sour grapes.
Thankfully, the Guardian quotes a lawyer who agrees that Mitchell has no legal basis to complain. Of course, not too long ago, we thought the same thing about a monkey in a selfie, and then… PETA stepped in. So far its attempt to extend copyright law to monkeys has flopped, but perhaps its next attempt will be extending publicity rights to horses. I imagine that will fare similarly poorly.