A Question of Copyright

Recently I have received a few questions regards the copyright surrounding my Lake District Landscape Photography. There seems to be two types of questions I get asked frequently.

1 – Can I share you photographs on my website/Facebook page?

2 – Can I use your photograph to create something and then print and distribute that?

It’s not always clear and public knowledge surrounding the copyright of photography is not that well published, although the rules are very simple in the UK. In todays digital world with so many photos being taken and shared online the value of a photograph can appear less and less. Here is my take on it and my views on the subject. If anything isn’t clear and you need or want to discuss this topic further please add a comment below or email me directly.

Why do I put take photographs and share them online.

First of all it’s probably worth me giving you some background as to why I have a presence online and why I take Photos. Photography is very important to me, as a creative it has always been a passion of mine, my interest in the Landscape and the technical challenge of capturing that with my camera equally so. I have actively been taking photos since I was 11 years old. 23 Years ago. It wasn’t until 2004 that I started to take a more serious interest in photography. I have spent countless hours learning, trying and testing various approaches, researching techniques, locations and experimenting with various formats. All this time and effort over the last number of years has led me to where I am today. Which can be summarised in these 10 points below.

1 – Photography work on display and for sale in the Leading Lake District Galleries
2 – Online worldwide sales of prints growing steadily year on year
3 – Several solo exhibitions across the Lake District (take a look at the interactive view above)
4 – Several prestigious commissions and displays in public spaces across the Lake District
5 – Publication in International Magazines/Publications
6 – Association with a multi award wining conservation charity in the Lake District
7 – Supplier of printed photographic products to some of the Lake Districts leading brands
8 – Supply several thousand Greetings Cards per year to various outlets across the Lake District
9 – Large community of loyal and friendly clients and online followers.
10 – All the above effort just about pays for itself

What the Law says

UK Law suggests a Photographer owns the copyright to a photograph they take unless a contractual agreement states otherwise. This means the photographer has the rights to publish and distribute the images as they see fit. They own the photograph and the rights to it. It is their property for 70 years after their death. There are a few exceptions where copyright and the rights to distribute a photo the photographer took are different such as a photo containing another persons/companies copyrighted material. A photo of a sculpture, painting or trademark, logo etc.

What I say

When a photographer shares a photograph online they are sharing the images with an audience they cannot control, usually a photo is watermarked to reference the photographer. I choose not to do this as I think it can detract from the original photograph and raise questions if the printed photo product also has the watermark in place. This does not mean the photograph isn’t protected by Copyright Law. My prints do not come with a watermark over the image, but my signature below the image bottom right.

As UK Law suggests I own all the copyright to all the images showcase on my website and Facebook/Twitter and Instagram Page and my photos should not be reproduced in any way without my permission. More on this below.

Sharing Images Online

I’m comfortable with people sharing my pictures online via the social media share features on my website and also the send to a friend feature. On Facebook you can use the share feature to share the picture with your friends/followers, all these options retain the original link back to me which is all I ask, this helps to build a good discussion around the photograph which is something I actively promote. I’m all for people helping me to spread the word regards my work and help me sell more prints.

Downloading Images

If you wish to download one of my images and then re-upload it to your webpage in most cases I agree to this with the appropriate link, something like Lake District Photography by James Bell However please ask my permission first.

A note to Businesses

Please don’t reproduce my images without asking as it’s theft and also a cheap reflection on your values and brand. This has recently happened and there are online tools available for image owners to search the web for their pictures so we can find out, ask yourself this, if my clients knew I did this would that make me look good or clever? No it’s theft, you don’t let people stay in your business for free….. Why not consider sharing a photographers work with your network and then you can both work together to promote each other? That makes more sense to me….. Most photographers are well networked individuals. If they spread the word that your business had stolen some of their property it wouldn’t look good on your business.

A note to other Artists and copycats.

Painting is a great media, one I wish I could do well. If you are a painter and are looking for inspiration for Landscapes scenes, you are more than welcome to view my images and take inspiration from them. UK Law is quiet clear that you are not allowed to make direct copies or even indirect copies. If any of the elements within your painting copy even the idea or concept behind one of my images you are actually infringing my copyright. UK Law is very clear on this and there have been several high profile cases in recent years that have tightened up on this. If you decide against your better judgment to copy my work and then distribute it, I will take action against you. You are effectively stealing my creative work and possibly stealing print sales from me. I will not tolerate this. Again, I welcome a discussion prior to you spending time copying my work, we maybe able to work something out to benefit us both. Ask yourself this. If my clients found out I’d copied someone else’s work how would they perceive you as an artists?

A note to Gallery and retail outlets

Knowingly selling and promoting work that infringes other artists copyrighted work is as much of a crime as copying it in the first place. You have a responsibility to educate yourself to the Laws surrounding copyright to ensure your business that you work hard to build and develop doesn’t look cheap and interested only in a fast buck this damaging your reputation in your field. I suggest you take professional legal advise to protect yourself against this.

Printed Materials

Regards printed materials, I wouldn’t like my images to be reproduced in any fashion without me receiving some financial gain. I spend a lot of time and effort creating my images with a view to getting paid to fund my efforts and keep things going. If you wish to use any of my images in printed material whether it be for a personal project or a commercial one, please contact me for a discussion. You will be surprised how accommodating a photographer can be for a reasonable fee or some form of promotional/marketing exchange.

Alternatively you can buy royalty stock images from various sources online, there are thousands of great images supplied by great landscape photographers available, however my images are made for me to sell as prints I create personally.

I hope you see my point and this clearly outlines my thoughts on the subject. Please feel free to comment below or contact me with any questions.

To summarise:

1 – I publish my photos online to attract print sales
2 – Print sales are my main priority
3 – I am interested in sharing my work with as many relevant people as possible
4 – I do not contribute to stock image libraries
5 – I do not want to participate in irrelevant link sharing programs
6 – I welcome you to share my work online via the tools I have implemented on this website and the social media share features that retain a link to me
7 – I’m reasonable and friendly, email me, call me, I’d rather discuss something and work out a mutually beneficial way forward.

8 – I fully understand Intellectual Property, my rights and I will protect them.

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