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Thread: Copyright a photograph composition

  1. #1
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    Default Copyright a photograph composition

    Hi,

    I was just wondering if there is such a thing as copyrighting a photo composition? E.g. if a song can be copyrighted, why not a photo right? If say I allow the use of my image of the Merlion to a publication for a fee and another photographer happened to shoot the same thing, same angle, who also tries to sell it, is the other photographer violating the copyright of mine?

    Before you go around asking, I don't have any shots of the Merlion for sale or even worthy of mention but was merely used as an example for discussion.

    Any inputs on this dear CS members?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    If you say...copyright the photo as a whole.. fine..
    but copyright just the composition? Frankly.. i think its ridiculous... using your eg.. Merlion.
    1 year.. How many people visitor the place and take photo?
    what about 5 years. 10 years.
    So..in the end..nobody can take photo of it anymore.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Quote Originally Posted by TWmilkteaTW View Post
    If you say...copyright the photo as a whole.. fine..
    but copyright just the composition? Frankly.. i think its ridiculous... using your eg.. Merlion.
    1 year.. How many people visitor the place and take photo?
    what about 5 years. 10 years.
    So..in the end..nobody can take photo of it anymore.
    I absolutely agree with you. Its ridiculous. However, after reading this, ridiculous has reached a whole new meaning.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member sinned79's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    there is already some squabbles about composition copyright in the landscape section with a few members lol.

    anyway in singapore, its pretty useless to talk about composition copyright since most places had been shot to death... and its hard to trace back to whoever "owns" this copyright. singapore is so small right?

  7. #7
    Senior Member edutilos-'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Came across this article here on the case:

    UK Copyright case: Different, but Same-Same | Travel Photography Review

    1. The tea company copied the original image from the photographer and uses it on their product.
    2. The photographer sued and reached a settlement from the company to pay a royalty.
    3. Tea company stoped using the first original image, and got their graphic designers to make a similar image in Photoshop from a composite of 4 other photos and a stock photo of a red bus.
    4. Photographer sued the tea company claiming the new image is still a copy of the original image.
    5. The Judge looked at the evidence, and decides that the second image is a copy.
    Full judgement here: Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd & Anor [2012] EWPCC 1 (12 January 2012)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    My take is one can't copyright composition. But if we as a photographer can only produce great shots from constantly imitating others' composition, then we are technically very good only but lacking in artistic or creativity.

    And don't worry too much, others can "steal" your composition but they can't steal your talent (in artistic and creativity).

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Quote Originally Posted by GRbenji View Post
    And don't worry too much, others can "steal" your composition but they can't steal your talent (in artistic and creativity).
    They may not be able to steal your talent but they can steal your soul and turn you into a soulless composition machine.


  10. #10
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GRbenji
    My take is one can't copyright composition.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sion

    They may not be able to steal your talent but they can steal your soul and turn you into a soulless composition machine.

    If it gets pushed through..

    No one will dare to post pictures on CS anymore because it will be used as evidence of copyright infringement of the people who copyrighted their composition

    The record company that wants to copyright its songs must have paid the singer, recording staffs, the songwriter, the auntie that sweeps the studio everyday.

    If the photographer can mark territory from copyrighting photo, then in time it should be reasonable the subjects of the photo get paid for having their photos taken.

    MBS will start charging anyone who wishes to copyright the marina bay composition.

    All this is just a step back for the photographic community

  11. #11

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    It seems that the tea company stole from the photographer originally first by using the photographer's photo without permission. After the photographer sued, they shot their own image as they don't want to pay the photographer.

    The judge's decision is probably not coming from whether an idea or composition can be copyrighted, but probably from trying to punish the company who bullied the photographer.

    But the execution makes it seems that compositions and ideas can be copyrighted. It cannot be.

    Or else someone is going to copyright composition for head to shoulders headshots of people and the whole world will be in infringement for having passports and stuff.

    Next step is to copyright a two person iphone self shot.
    WTB Manfrotto RC4 L Bracket

  12. #12

    Default

    My response to TS's is:

    Maybe you are first to come up with the composition but if your photo can be easily reproduced by another person, its likely not a "WOW" photo to begin with. Focus on making even better photos.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Can't really agree. A "wow" photo need not be technically demanding. Its could be just a concept that had not been thought of by others yet.

    The conceptualization is often tougher than the execution.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Quote Originally Posted by hazmee View Post
    Hi,

    I was just wondering if there is such a thing as copyrighting a photo composition? E.g. if a song can be copyrighted, why not a photo right? If say I allow the use of my image of the Merlion to a publication for a fee and another photographer happened to shoot the same thing, same angle, who also tries to sell it, is the other photographer violating the copyright of mine?

    Before you go around asking, I don't have any shots of the Merlion for sale or even worthy of mention but was merely used as an example for discussion.

    Any inputs on this dear CS members?
    Cannot cannot and still cannot...

    Copyright is granted on the output and not the idea.. means the copyright of the photo belongs to you but not the idea or composition..
    Alpha
    Want to get back to photography

  15. #15

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Objection !!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default

    She is blindfolded. Maybe she no longer wants to see how judiciaries worldwide are doing anymore..

  17. #17
    Senior Member sinned79's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Quote Originally Posted by giantcanopy View Post
    She is blindfolded. Maybe she no longer wants to see how judiciaries worldwide are doing anymore..
    ermm thats not the correct meaning leh haha

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by giantcanopy

    She is blindfolded. Maybe she no longer wants to see how judiciaries worldwide are doing anymore..
    The Law is Blind

  19. #19

    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    Quote Originally Posted by ninelives View Post
    Blindfolded and wielding a sword is quite dangerous. Especially when also carrying a weighing scale, donno for what, go market buy things?
    WTB Manfrotto RC4 L Bracket

  20. #20
    Member kane-rulez's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copyright a photograph composition

    copyright is often plagurised by mischief mongers and firms looking for easy money. often their greed is no way a representation for the original art.

    If we apply copyright laws that say that picture is a copyright that does not mean the composition is.( static image) people may recreate the same image at will, this is in context to the image being available naturally with very few modifications. to use the example the image of say The merlion., you may use lighting techniques etc.

    think the keyword is reproduce. if you reproduce ( use the same image then its a copyright violation) but if you use the concept and then re shoot the picture and manage to make it look like the original that cannot be a copyright violation.
    Concepts which are physical are more likely to be copyrighted. same with songs cover versions are still sung and no one gets sued over it.

    Moral of story if you want to recreate the same composition that is not a snapshot of anything found naturally .i.e not an idea that has resulted in an execution to obtain a result. you may get away without being penalized for copyright violation.

    If the recreation is inspired by another, then take the consent to reproduce. if you are going to exploit it commercially then work out an arrangement before hand.
    [Nikon-D7000|Manfrotto 055XPROB, Gitzo 275 BH| Nikon-AF 50 f1.4D| Nikon-SB600]

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