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Objecting to an Image Being Used

There are a number of  principle reasons why some people object to images being used;

  • They think they own the rights to these images and consider them of commercial value.

  • They are just upset that no one asked permission before using them.

  • A person they recognise is included in the photo.

  • They want to censor the image or stop others seeing it for political, moral, religious or commercial reasons.

With the last of these, censorship, there has to be a very good reason why an image should be withdrawn before we will withdraw it.

With people included in photos, it may be that they signed a 'model release' or took part in the images being taken, for example, posing for a press photo.  Photographers have the right to take photos in all public places, and people in the general background, that are not a significant focus of the image, have no right to complain about this. As we are only including, on this website, old pictures there should not be a situation where a person will be shown as they look now, we don't see any complaints coming from this area.

Looking now at the first two, the subject of rights and permissions. Some photos are in the Public Domain because the owners of the rights put them there, and some are because all rights have expired. We have articles on copyright and explain when they expire, on our main website, Photographers Resource.

In addition to this many images are by their rights owners, granted Creative Commons Licences, a super system that allows wider use to be made of images, while the rights owners retain some rights. Some images have become Creative Commons images as part of an agreement where people have included information and photos in other projects, Geograph being a good example.

One reason a lot of people like using Creative Commons is that they don't have to deal with requests for the use of photos, as the permission is already given by having the images available in this way. We make very wide use of Creative Commons photos on our main website and without them we would not have anything like as good a converge. 

We are photographers who, as well as taking the magazine photos and a wide range of others, also have a Limited Edition fine art business, publishing some of our own photos and some period reproductions, so we know the value of picture rights. However we grant Creative Commons rights to the majority of the images we have, we hold back just a few where we do not. The other difference is that our images are huge, while online images are only a small version of these, so realistically there is little opportunity for commercial advantage to be taken from them, and its far more likely that someone will come to us for a commercial licence having seen the Creative Commons ones available. So I would strongly recommend all photographers to make all but their top 1% of images available as Creative Commons images, and maybe these as well.

On our main website and this one, where we have Creative Commons images, we identify, where we can, the photographer and link back at least to where we obtained the image. This way if people want to make wider use they have a start in their search to make contact with you.

Old images, of the type we have on this website, are difficult often to identify the photographer, the exact state of the rights or when they were taken in many cases. Many have been reluctant to take on the challenge of creating an image archive of historic images for this reason. However some publishers have produced piles of books of historic images of areas, and sites like eBay allow images of postcards and prints for sale to be shown on their website, and I would suggest we are doing very little different to these.

However lets assume, having got this far, that you feel we have an image that you have rights for, then please consider if you really mind it being used, it's far better to have images used than locked away and eventually lost.

Please also consider if its the exact same photo as you feel you have rights over, for example photos of tourist places get taken by thousands of people, even on occasions a line of photographers side by side at the same time.

There is of course no copyright on ideas, or data, so this applies to block content, photographs and illustrations only.

If you still feel you want to ask us to remove content that you feel you have rights for, and that we should not be using, then there are two sections of information we need:-

  • We need to identify if its the same photo. Information that will help us establish this is the place, date and time if possible, the camera model if you know it, the type of film or plates used, and any other items that will enable us to confirm if its the photo you think it is, please also enclose a high quality version of the image that you say is the same photo.

  • We need to identify the situation with rights for this image, so we need to know who you are and have identity information, to know who took the photo, that you are claiming rights to and if it was not you, how you say you have acquired the rights.

  • If its not you who took the photo, we need to know if the person to have taken it is still alive, we need their current address, and if not alive the date and place that they they died.

  • We also need you to confirm that you have never entered this image into a system, that by doing so you would have granted either a Creative Commons or one of the older type of copyright permissions, that would mean that in effect this image is in the Public Domain.

If you can, please provide all the information you are able and a good quality copy of the image to start, rather than drip feeding information, as it would take for ever to resolve a situation this way.

We have a lot of information available to us on camera formats, lenses, film grain and the like, and by software can compare images, but you will appreciate that this all takes time and this time would generally be better used in expanding the archive than investigating an individual print in detail if its not absolutely necessary. So please make sure that you really feel you both have a solid conviction that its the same print and that you have the sole rights to it, as well as you feeling you don't want others to see it.

We make no charge for looking at an image, but if you have sent one and it turned out not to be a valid claim, or you want us to look at a number at the same time, there is an administration charge of 20 for each of the next 10 images, being refunded for any that are held to be valid complaints, and 50 for each beyond that, all administrative charges to be paid at the time the complaints are submitted.

We feel that the administrative charge that is refunded when complaints are upheld to be valid as the best way to avoid the risk of large numbers of spurious claims with similar photos, and allow us to very promptly deal with claims which are valid and with full information to support them is forthcoming.


By: Keith Park Section: Help Section Key:
Page Ref: objecting Topic: Last Updated: 07/2010

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