Image H/T PetaPixel
The images have a similar theme: a red Routemaster bus against a greyscale Westminster Palace background. Both shots of familiar London landmarks and fairly innocuous as such images go. At least you would think so.
So far, so mundane. So what?
If you scroll down to the bottom of TIC’s page you’ll see this:
TEMPLE ISLAND SCORE SECOND COPYRIGHT VICTORY OVER NEW ENGLISH TEAS
However, TIC fail to elaborate what their victories entail.
Take another look at those images. Red Routemaster bus, greyscale Westminster Palace. There the similarities end. The compositions are different even if the subjects are the same. We’ve all seen similar images and they are nothing new. Here’s one selling promoting London and Hyde Park Towers hotel. Here’s another one being sold as a poster. Such images are all over the internet and have been popular with the souvenir/poster buying tourists and public for decades. It’s a typical London scene that must have been photographed millions of times. Yet NET has been denied the use of their image on product packaging by a British judge because of a perceived breach of copyright.
Yes, you read that correctly. Red bus + greyscale Westminster Palace = copyrighted by TIC. Kerrrrr-ching.
So you want to market goods promoting Britain using an image synonymous with all that is London and British. You shoot a photograph of a world renowned London Routemaster bus using Westminster Palace as a backdrop. You then Photoshop the image in a popular and highly unoriginal way and use it to sell your merchandise. Job done. But wait, what’s this? TIC own the intellectual rights to ALL similar images even if the composition is different and the concept of a coloured subject against a greyscale background predates Adobe Photoshop by a century or more? How come you suddenly have no choice but to approach TIC for a licence to use your image commercially? Has the UK gone completely nucking futz?
Sadly, the answer is yes. Yes it has.
We have a controversial and deeply stupid copyright law ruling to blame for this latest insult against fairness and common sense. For photographers nothing is safe from the lawyers and the legal system. Not familiar landmarks. Not tried and tested photographic manipulation. Not even the fruits of your creative imagination. Not unless you are a bastard and patent your output even though it’s not original by a long shot.
You can read about the whole sorry story here.