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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Who owns Stonehenge images?

This is a photo of Stonehenge.  It's mine.  If EH wants it, they can have it, for a small fee to be negotiated........

Who owns images of Stonehenge?  Simple question -- and a simple answer:  "It's a free world.  If I take a picture, even of something owned by somebody else,  the picture is mine -- and I may do with it what I will."  But no, says English Heritage, we own Stonehenge, and if you make money out of a picture taken of the ancient ruin, we want a royalty from you." 

That's what they told a picture agency, and when the press got hold of the story and made a bit of a fuss, they made matters worse by issuing the following:

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

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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Naturally enough, the forums and blogs are now full of extremely rude comments about EH, which is apparently trying to ape what the National Trust does with its properties.  The whole thing is insane.   For a start, how do you define a "commercial photographer" -- and then what about "intention"?  If a commercial photographer visits the site to have a nice picnic in the sun, and takes a few photos while he is there, and then sells them, is that OK?  And what about "financial gain" -- if a photographer sells some pics just in order to cover his costs, is that OK?

The whole thing is a PR disaster, and if EH does have a cunning scheme, it will be impossible to police, with almost a million visitors coming onto the site each year.  Anyway, Stonehenge is owned by the public.  That means ME.  It's my monument, and I hereby give permission to all and sundry to make as many images as they like and to sell them to whoever might be happy to part with a few quid, or a few pence, or even something they want to barter.  That's my contribution to the national economy in these straightened times.  So that's all right then.

2 comments:

Stonehenge said...

Interesting that EH claims rights over photographs taken for profit, you'd think paying the fee to get in may be enough...

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree. I doubt that EH will take this any further -- they have had such bad press as a result of this move. I think they were just trying to do what the National Trust does, forgetting that the geographical context is rather different at Stonehenge! In any case, the "rule" is totally unenforceable.....