You couldn’t make it up.

After months of warnings from photographers, and weeks of viral posters demonstrating the dangers of Clause 43 and misuse of photography, the Labour party have got in on the act by launching their election campaign with a poster using all the techniques warned of: only to see it blow up in their faces.

The weekend’s now-infamous Ashes To Ashes poster, featuring actor Philip Glenister, and immediately spoofed by political opponents, has provoked much pointing and laughter in the media. How, the question runs, could the Labour party be so stupid as to launch a campaign portraying their main opponent as one of the best loved characters from recent British television?

But for those in the UK creative industry there is a far more interesting question: how did the Labour party get permission to use the Glenister image? The answer is: they didn’t. In the Clause 43 spirit of log on, go everywhere, steal everything, the image was apparently downloaded by a Labour Party activist, adapted by advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi, then approved by government ministers David and Ed Miliband. Alarm bells, anyone?

The poster manages to break just about every rule in the intellectual property handbook, and with entirely predictable results. Glenister has apparently said he is unhappy about the use of his image for political purposes. Doubtless lawyers for German car maker Audi will be interested in how one of their products came to be used to promote a British political party. And BBC chiefs are reportedly “furious” at the misuse: “we would never have given permission for any political use of one of our programmes,” one senior executive is reported as saying.

Quick, define irony: the BBC, one of the main proponents of a bill to allow them to use other people’s images in ways they didn’t envisage without permission or payment, is furious that somebody has taken a BBC image and used it in a way the BBC didn’t envisage without permission or payment.

Given the nature of the ill-fated poster it’s hard to see how anyone can claim they didn’t know the provenance of the Glenister picture: after all, the whole point of the poster is that he’s famous. But given the obvious folly of all involved it’s just possible they might make such a claim.

However a quick search of the internet reveals the original photograph hosted here, complete with all the BBC copyright information: it even very helpfully has a contact number for those who wish to use the picture legally.

Caption:
Picture shows: DCI Gene Hunt (PHILIP GLENISTER).

TX: BBC1 TBC

WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC
Pictures’ BBC Digital Picture Service. In particular, this image may only
be published in print for editorial use during the publicity period (the
weeks immediately leading up to and including the transmission week of the
relevant programme or event and three review weeks following) for the
purpose of publicising the programme, person or service pictured and
provided the BBC and the copyright holder in the caption are credited. Any
use of this image on the internet and other online communication services
will require a separate prior agreement with BBC Pictures. For any other
purpose whatsoever, including advertising and commercial prior written
approval from the copyright holder will be required.

Caption Writer:
Greg King 0208 225 8543

Headline:
ASHES TO ASHES

Transmission Ref:
BBC One

Category:
Gen

Supp Cat 1: DCI Gene Hunt (PHILIP GLENISTER)

Special Instructions:
WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC
Pictures’ BBC Digital Picture Service. In particular, this image may only
be published in print for editorial use during the publicity period (the
weeks immediately leading up to (truncated here)

Photographer: BBC/Kudos

Credit: Kudos

Source: Kudos

According to the Times Labour Party officials say that the leadership team of Lord Mandelson, Douglas Alexander and Harriet Harman take responsibility for the electoral misfire.

That of course is the same Lord Mandelson who is about to be handed control of future UK copyright legislation through the Digital Economy Bill. So on the eve of the DEB going to Parliament the question for Mandelson is: what part of that BBC copyright notice didn’t you understand?

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40 Responses to “UK Digital Economy Bill Turns To Ashes”

  1. flyingtog flyingtog says:

    Want to read more on the the photo disaster and the DEB Clause 43 – read http://www.stop43.org.uk/

  2. [...] interested in having a read about the legalities of such image use. There is a great blog here:- Digital Economy Bill turns to Ashes Simon Brown http://www.simonbrownimages.com Reply With Quote     [...]

  3. Brian Harris Brian Harris says:

    and then it gets better as conservative party leader and putative Prime Minister David Cameron says he is ‘quite pleased with the compliment’. Irony, irony where forout thine irony ?

  4. [...] interested in having a read about the legalities of such image use. There is a great blog here:- Digital Economy Bill goes to Ashes Reply With Quote [...]

  5. Brian Harris Brian Harris says:

    it gets better, conservative party leader and putative PM David Cameron says ‘I’m quite pleased with compliment’.

  6. [...] Tories who are guilty. I could be wrong of course…cash waiting… Get over to top snapper Jeremy Nicholl’s blog and have a decent read up of this fiasco. As Jezza says: The poster manages to break just about [...]

  7. [...] Oh and on Labour’s epic Digital Economy Bill IP fail. [...]

  8. Nic Nic says:

    well, it is getting talked about…so not a total flop and young people are saying what was so bad about the Eighties, Answer begins with a Thatch!!!

  9. Chris H Chris H says:

    That is (on the face of it, m’lud) a straightforward breach of copyright. Nothing to do with Clause 43.

    In fact, it could be *easier* to take action against abusers of photos after the Orphan Works (Authorisation) Regulations 2012.

    Now: “uh, I couldn’t find the photographer”. Court: “so pay what you would have paid in the first place, if you’d asked.”

    Then: “do you have a licence from the photographer?” No. “So do you have an orphan works licence – have you documented your search for the photographer, including asking other photographers and their organisations, and paid a fee, as Clause 43 demands?” Uh, no.

    Court: “That’d be a *flagrant* breach of copyright, then. Let’s say four times the fee?”

    ‘course, this one is flagrant anyway. Good luck to the photographers collecting…

  10. Paul Treacy Paul Treacy says:

    The mind BOGGLES!

  11. [...] UK Digital Economy Bill Turns To Ashes » The Russian Photos Blog [...]

  12. We are totally fucked if 43 goes through

  13. [...] change” than he did in his famous ‘airbrushed’ poster. It is left to people like Jeremy Nicholl to point out the irony of this photographic copyright infringement  as the #DEbill is rushed [...]

  14. Tom Tom says:

    @ Chris H above. Part of the problem is that HM Govt Images (or whatever) will be setting the fees at the “going rate”. You tell me what the usual rate for the use of that image would be assuming you didn’t recognise the likely provenance? 50p from Shutterstock, maybe? Or upwards of £3,000 for the photographer on top of payment to any other interested parties. The government is never going to be able to administer this. There’s also no mention (as far as I am aware) that a system of punitive damages will also be introduced.

  15. [...] the UK we have an insidious bill going through parliament. One which gives Mandelson powers to make up his own laws on the fly and cut you off the internet. Just say no. Looks like there may even be opposition according to the [...]

  16. [...] UK Digital Economy Bill Turns To Ashes "Quick, define irony: the BBC, one of the main proponents of a bill to allow them to use other people’s images in ways they didn’t envisage without permission or payment, is furious that somebody has taken a BBC image and used it in a way the BBC didn’t envisage without permission or payment." — Section 43 of the Digital Economy Bill is a travesty of justice for photographers, from amateurs-on-iStockPhoto like me all the way up. (tags: debill DigitalEconomyBill Copyright photography UK Rights Election Advertising) [...]

  17. Tom Tom says:

    The BBC are a right one to complain about nicked images, they do it all the time!!!!

  18. Alex B Alex B says:

    This blog has just been quoted into Hansard by Peter Luff during his speech in the Digital Economy Bill “debate”.

  19. Chris H Chris H says:

    @Tom:

    “50p from Shutterstock, maybe?” Time for image makers to seize control of DACS, using the provisions in (shhh!) Schedule 2 to the Digital Economy Bill, to ensure it charges the maximum in every eventuality :-)

    “There’s also no mention that a system of punitive damages will also be introduced.” It already exists, in the shape of “flagrant abuse” damages (CDPA 1988 Section 97). One lawyer I’ve been talking to says it’s only been used once in England; I find a report of it being used in Scotland at http://www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0706scc.html – time for photographers’ organisations to fund court cases to make it effective.

    Listening to the Commons debate now. The Tories want to block 43 (though it’s not over ’til…) – who’ll bet on whether the next stab at a Bill will be worse for photographers or any other creator?

  20. [...] You think you own your your own photographs? Think again. [...]

  21. [...] dunniphoto David Dunnico blogs about his photography « An Easter message to you all… You’re nicked April 6, 2010 Apparently they’re having an election, I won’t be bothering with any of their photo opportunities – I’ll just nick other people’s photos instead like the two main parties have done here. Read the full sorry tale here. [...]

  22. [...] and seems to have rallied opponents. But, as PeteProdge points out, it also appears that the ad very well might infringe on copyrights. That's because it takes an image from an old (popular) TV show in the UK, and replaces one [...]

  23. [...] they were debating issues relating to photo copyright in the House of Commons, it turns out that Labour has infringed BBC copyright by Photoshopping David Cameron’s head on to a photo of a ch…. Then the Conservatives committed the same offence by making their own version. Tags: digital [...]

  24. [...] poster manages to break just about every rule in the intellectual property handbook,” writes one blogger, “and with entirely predictable [...]

  25. Phil Phil says:

    “You couldn’t make it up,” the battle cry of the Daily Mail and one that instantly sets a tone for your article. Bad move.

  26. [...] UK Digital Economy Bill Turns To Ashes After months of warnings from photographers, and weeks of viral posters demonstrating the dangers of Clause 43 and misuse of photography, the Labour party have got in on the act by launching their election campaign with a poster using all the techniques warned of: only to see it blow up in their faces. [...]

  27. [...] not going to quote bits – like the British Labour Party, I’m not entirely up-to-date on intellectual rights, copyright and associated reasons to be handed Go-to-jail/Pay-a-fine cards [...]

  28. [...] in a final comedic twist, the Labour Party as trodden all over the copyright principles by adapting a well known poster from the Ashes to Ashes series in spoofing David Cameron, without permission from the rights owners. The poster was then duly adapted by the Conservatives, [...]

  29. [...] the result was an embarrassing fiasco. A combination of hectic campaigning by photographers and a spectacular copyright blunder by the government ended in what The Register described as a famous victory for photographers when [...]

  30. [...] through in last year’s Digital Economy Act, only to be humiliatingly rebuffed after a series of embarrassing blunders. Now, zombie-like, Hargreaves resuscitates the theme. Apparently the motto of the UK OW lobby is: [...]

  31. [...] freetard heisting a veteran photographer’s best-known image, or a British Labour government sabotaging their own election campaign, the sad and expensive results of photo theft are there for all to [...]

  32. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on photographer.
    Regards

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