Monday, August 7, 2017

National Trust targets photographers and film makers over image rights.

Looking towards Cwm Tregalan under Yr Wyddfa. An area owned by the NT and subject to a hefty image rights charge for commercial photographers or even amateurs who sell an image for profit.

Following on from yesterday's news that the National Trust for Scotland was pursuing through their legal representatives a small outdoor company-Hilltrek, based in NE Scotland- for using ‘Glencoe’ in a product description- the company have been making their Glencoe waterproof for 30 years- claiming that as the landowners they enjoy exclusive rights to the name. News has just reached of another quite frankly bizarre interpretation of land ownership by the National Trust; this time here in North Wales.

A commercial photographer who was planning to shoot some action photographs for an outdoor publication on crags which fall within one of the NT’s extensive Snowdonia estates, has been quoted £250 to £400 per hour to carry out his assignment. A fact that will surprise many who like myself believed that while private individuals and organisations like the NT can own the land beneath our feet, those iconic views will eternally remain ours to freely enjoy and capture as we please. The idea that a view be owned by a private individual, business or organisation is almost beyond credibility, I would imagine, to most people.

It's a little known fact that ANY commercial activity-including guiding- on land accessed through the cROW act can incur a charge and landowners can pursue retrospective damages against those engaged in a commercial activity on their land if permission was not granted in the first instance. This would suggest that even an organisation like the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre would be liable should a private landowner or an organisation like the NT decide to start a legal action against them.

However, while charging for access to privately owned land and waterways is nothing new- even if in this instance, charging individuals, charities and commercial enterprises to climb, walk and paddle within the national park will ring alarm bells- Charging to capture an image within the park certainly rachets up the concept of ownership to a previously unheard of level. I understand that if ‘recognizable landmarks’ are included in an image taken by a commercial photographer, then this will automatically trigger a charge. I guess this could be anything from the summit cafe on Yr Wyddfa to a boat bobbing about on Llyn Gwynant.

As if to emphasise the point, The National Trust Photography Permits Secretary informed my photographer informant that the trust was ‘actively pursuing’ several landscape photographers for damages as they had taken photographs on the Trust’s Snowdonia estates without permission and were using these photographs as stock images. Of course, photographs and video footage taken within the SNP are not only being used in outdoor publications or in advertising features- witness the latest Skoda Octavia advert featuring Bradley Wiggins shot near Capel Curig and the Llanberis Pass. Photographs are also used for greetings cards, calendars and posters by professional photographers.

For every successful landscape photographer whose images might grace a calendar or coffee table book, there will be dozens of photographers who just scrape by a bare living through their craft. Charging an exorbitant £250-400 an hour will just not be an option in many cases for those who fall within this latter category.

Another aspect to consider is retrospective damages filed against individuals or the estates of deceased photographers whose iconic images perhaps taken 70 years ago, might still be being used today? Although I understand this draconian action is unlikely, it still has to be considered an option for an organisation who believes it owns not just the land but the visual perspective.

I also have to pose the question, if images taken on Trust estates are liable to incur a charge, will this apply to Google Earth, a global media giant who have photographed and published online, every inch of Snowdonia.Given that Google is a commercial enterprise I can only presume that they have either paid what would be a considerable sum or possibly, being US based, are exempt from these charges? Then there are organisations like The Climbers Club. As someone who was involved in the production of the last Ogwen guidebook which is liberally sprinkled with dozens  of action and crag images, will this non commercial club find itself liable for damages, for the guidebook is after all,a commercial venture. Being sold in book and outdoor gear shops?

What is self-evident is that the National Trust is once again acting in a heavy handed manner against small commercial enterprises who access their estates within the park. In this case, it’s not claiming exclusive naming rights to a Snowdonia location-although I guess it's a good job that Snowdon Mouldings don’t exist anymore! - It’s claiming ownership of a visual perspective and by any token, that is an incredible abuse of land ownership rights, and a move that is likely to disturb photographers and film and video makers who use the Snowdonia National Park regularly in a professional capacity.
 

76 comments:

  1. Well that's my NT Membership cancelled then, I cant believe they could actually enforce this, will they have the 'Image Police' on every stile in the Nant Ffrancon and Ogwen Valley,getting very disillusioned with the NT and worryingly I must owe them about £3 million quid, TWATS

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    1. I reckon it would be quite easy for them to police, all they have to do is have someone trawling through google images and see who is selling images from their land.

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    2. Better to stay a member, and vote against such a policy.

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    3. Adrian Midgley don't forget the National Trust is not a truly democratic organisation, motions passed at its AGM are only advisory, the Trustees can and often do completely ignore them. The Trustees composition is also heavily loaded by "nominees" from various organisations to keep the peasants from taking control.

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    4. Yes, we're members of the NTS and it's a dismal money grubbing situation.
      If the National Trust own image rights over their property then so does every other property owner

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    5. Havent they heard of freedom of panorama ?

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    6. I Stopped support Financially to When they gave their land up for Hunting as a sport

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  2. It's not been a good week for the National Trust. I go walking in the Peak District and am not aware of any similar controversies there yet though.

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  3. Plas y Brenin is a charitable trust and all courses are (currently) educational so perfectly in tune with current access law.

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  4. If this proves to be the case then a boycott of NT would be the only course of action. If public opinion went against them it would be far more costly to them than what they might gain from such action.

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  5. Bloody Hell, they really need to take a long hard look at themselves. They are currently getting everything wrong and badly need someone to sort out their PR because at the moment they are just repeatedly making themselves look complete aresholes. You never, ever, hear anything good about the National Trust which is a shame really.

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    1. the problem is they are cut throat empire builders... its not the PR its their game play thats gone wrong

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  6. Have never been a fan of the NT due to the extremely high prices they charge just to spend a couple of hours in most places. And to think that they ask for donations to buy up areas of land. I'm sure I remember about 20 years ago they were asking for donations to buy up the land around the coast of Cornwall. I understand that they need money to run and maintain these areas but to start doing this is just down right dirty!

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  7. The answer is in the word "National" it belongs to the nation not the faceless pen pushers.

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    1. Typical. What a bunch of c**ts. All that will happen now is that commercial distribution of such areas will cease making this "unknown" to people outside the area for years to come. I hope no one goes on their land anymore and they have to rethink this draconian and crazy policy. Whats next will they own the air situated in the vicinity and charge for breathing it in?

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    2. It used to not belong to faceless pen pushers. Now, it does. Just like America's NRA was founded for responsible gun ownership and control and got taken over by legal gunrunners, the NT has been taken over by property management types whose antics must leave Beatrix Potter turning in her grave.

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  8. There's no law of panorama in the UK so if a landscape feature is captured from public land or road there shouldn't be an issue. This doesn't negate the fact that the NT or NTS shouldn't be commercialising their land in that way!

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  9. Why is there no Welsh National Trust? Why do we have to put up with control from London?

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    1. Cadw fulfils much of their role in Wales doesn't it?

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    2. CADW is more like English Heritage by comparison

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    3. Cadw already try to charge photographers taking pictures with their buildings in the frame !

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  10. I'd love to know what their claim will be pursued as: surely only trespass would have any possibility of success?

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    1. Trespass is the basis. The claim would then be consequential loss, ie of their fees.

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    2. But, if that person is a member of NT who have paid their fees in order to visit (their?)land and properties, is that Trespass.

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    3. I would suspect yes. If they do not follow "house rules."

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  11. They come from the angle of activities being carried out on their land. If you are working from an area next to their land then I don't believe they can control what you are imaging (though I'm not a lawyer so don't rely on this as a defence). They have the same approach to the use of drones on their land. They can stop pilots taking off and landing (through trespass laws) but want to control over-flying. Unfortunately for them, they don't own the airspace and have no jurisdiction over it either. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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  12. They've long insisted you need permission for any commercial photography. They also piloted a licensing scheme for outdoor activities last year, but I've been unable to get any update from them on the outcome of this - see https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/outdoor-activity-licence-faqs

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  13. As a former volunteer on NT restoration projects also a former paid up member, I think many aspects of the NT is badly thought out, some of the car park charges in West Wales is shocking and the membership charges are making membership only viable for an elite and not affordable by the masses, hence my being a former paying member. The case broguth against the Glencoe makers is truly appalling and the idea that the NT own the views on the land in their custodianship is a new low.

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  14. National trust members should revolt and not renew their memberships.

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    1. I stopped my membership a little while ago due to a)the high cost, and b) their attitude to things like this.

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    2. I cancelled my family membership years ago after having a run in with them over photography. They're much much more aggressive now than back then.

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    3. The Peak District has many areas which fall into a NT zone but most of the land is privately owned. As long as you have the landowners permission, surely the NT cannot do anything about it.

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  15. Works both ways... Look forward to seeing all those personal injury claims against NT for injuries which occur on their land, tarmac paths and handrails here we come.

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  16. Before any revolting…I believe the Scottish NT is a DIFFERENT organisation to the NT in England and Wales?

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    1. Different, yet affiliated. If you buy the (cheaper) SNT membership, it entitles you to visit English NT sites as well.

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  17. These charges smack of some 'bright-spark' trying to justify their job in the fund-raising department. The upkeep of all these places we enjoying visiting and photographing must be huge - they don't 'look after' themselves…I have no problem with reasonable charges for visiting places and for parking to access landscapes. Even a nominal charge for commercial photography might seem acceptable. But to be so hugely heavy handed is counter-productive!!

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  18. Looking at it from a different perspective, if someone, professional or amateur took a photo of your house, car or person, and then sold it for thousands of pounds, you would not mind?. If they offered to give a fee to your favourite charity, would you mind?
    And a final comment; thee extortionate fees? My annual subscription, a couple of pounds a week for the two of us, gives us free parking and free entry to their properties. And we have the cosy glow of knowing that in a small way, we are saving properties and mountains such as Blencathra from foreign buyers.

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    1. If someone took a photo of my house and made a shed of money, I would not mind. I would be upset with myself for not realising the value myself.

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    2. If someone sells an image of a person without a model release they can be sued by that person. As for the house or car, providing the image is taken from public land, it is fair game.

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    3. No, you can sell an image of a person without a release so long as it's for editorial purposes. Otherwise newspapers wouldn't have any pictures in them - do you think that paparazzi go around getting model releases? What you can't do is use the image in an advert because then you might be implying that the person endorsed the product when they did not.

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    4. I'm in complete agreement with David Hall and Jon Brooke. But in addition to the points they make, there is legislation relating to National Trust property which doesn't relate to my house (or yours). Specifically, the National Trust Acts of 1907, 1919, 1937, 1939, 1953 and 1971. Para 37 of the 1907 act states...

      "All rights of common commonable or other like rights or rights of way in over or affecting the Trust property shall remain and be unaffected by the provisions of this Act and save as in this Act expressly provided nothing contained in or done under or in pursuance of this Act shall take away abridge or prejudicially affect any estate vested in or any right belonging to and previously to the passing of this Act exerciseable by any person."

      In other words, anything you had a legal right to do before the Trust acquired the land you still have a right to do today and the Trust cannot revoke or infringe that right.

      The NT Acts can be found at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/documents/download-national-trust-acts-1907-1971-post-order-2005.pdf

      There was an extensive thread about this issue on the Wild About Britain web site back in 2009, at which time the NT, in the person of Mr Chris Rowlin, stated that they did not intend at that time to apply their policy on commercial photography to their open access land but only to their pay for entry sites. It would appear that this policy has now changed, at least in Scotland.

      It's not my intention to be anonymous but I don't particularly want to sign up for an account so I shall sign off as,

      David Pressland

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  19. I seem to remember the NT trying this in the 1980s. They eventually backed down (a little) by saying that photographs taken FROM public land would not be affected. It seems the accountants and solicitors are at the trough again, looking for ways to increase their income.
    I feel that the best - and hopefully final- solution would be for one of the groups of National Park "users" to get together and take question to court. It would need a big organisation because initial costs could be high, so maybe the Countryside Alliance. I would be quite sure that the legal precedence would be set (in the public's favour)...... and the NT idea founders on the rock of justice and freedom! (Ooo I like the ring of that!)
    Oh and I will remain a member of the NT - free entry to most of the sites in my corner of England is just too valuable to quit - though even members are charged for parking at Wakehurst.

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  20. If only they were so rabid in chasing down those perpetrating wild life crimes on the grouse moors they lease out.

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  21. If the photograph is a 1s exposure then that is 7p based on £250 an hour.

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    1. My thoughts exactly. Stick to 1/2000 (say) and what's the problem?

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    2. Excellent rationale! Of course, if it were a sunny day, you might even get away with 1/4000! But seriously, we have paid an annual fee (or an 'on the spot' one) to roam the land - when we switch to being a 'photographer', would they attempt to charge us for our set-up time, our walking-around time, our shooting time? Very short-termist, small-minded, ultimately self-defeating. Does not make one proud to support the NT.

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  22. They may own the land....but how do they hope to own the photons that have been randomly scattered from it?

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  23. Doubt if this is enforceable in practice. I am disappointed as an NT member since 1983.

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  24. The trust has been doing this for a while. Few years ago i offered to do some photos for my local branch of the trust. They were happy for me to do so but I lost all rights, wouldn't be credited, couldn't use images myself and wouldn't get anything in recompense. Plus still couldn't use any other images without paying them.
    They were told quickly to &&&& off.

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  25. What a load of tosh, I wonder if the Almighty who created all things Bright and beautiful ,and the cosmos would like to charge us , or maybe he should take back our eyes and let us not see the beauty that is all around us in his many many forms .

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  26. I had to withdraw an image from Alamy which was of a tree with unrecognisable people and a dog a long way away. The problem was I identified the location as Lyme Park, which is NT property. If the name had not been in the keywording, I would have probably got away with it. I can see their point about not letting others make money from their property, but those fees are extortionate. Who is going to ask permission when all they are doing is taking snaps on a family outing?

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  27. It's clearly established in law that anyone can take a photograph of anything if they are on publicly accessible land - such as a public footpath - and they are entitled to publish it without any liability to the landowner (other than perhaps indecent images!)

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  28. The Milky Way is mine by the way. Don't any of you lot go trying to get photos of it or its celestial bodies. Even the Perseid meteor shower is out as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and I've got the rights to lightning too. Couldn't get thunder... all wrapped up under the Performing Rights Society.

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  29. Unfortunately this trend is popping up across the globe. My sister is a photographer in South Africa and has come across the same situation on a "trust" location. I find it very sad and totally unacceptable. Like making it against the law to catch and use rain water for personal use!

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  30. I was always under the impression that they held the land in 'trust' for the nation and didn't actually own it; we do, so they can't charge us for what we all own....

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  31. They can do whatever they like....being born in Great Britain gives me the right to roam anywhere and look at and photograph anything I like.....as for charging for image rights to a name.....they did not name therse places ..they are about 10000 years too late..

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  32. The NT bases it's position on a number of by-laws which only affect their properties and which were passed aged ago. These purport to place limits on commercial photography but the clause is within a section titled 'Hawking' which rather suggests that it is the 'have your photo taken with this pet monkey' variety of commercial photography that is covered. Nevertheless, NT have chosen to take a view that they are in a position to take action that is not available to other landowners based on these by-laws. NT also operates it's own picture library (something of a closed shop) and attempts to control competition to it by bully-boy tactics and threats of litigation. If they did litigate, I think that the photographic community would surprise them by financially supporting the photographer caught in this way.
    The whole position would be better addressed by a practical review of the position based on current law and not ancient by-law. This should also consider that this property is held in trust and the views of many who have donated over the years should be considered. No-one would believe that large scale commercial activity should be free - it must be an important revenue stream for NT - but their attitude to small scale stock photography, where photographers might earn a few pounds for an image (or often earn nothing) is both heavy handed and outdated.

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  33. I was about to join the National Trust but I'll put the idea on hold until they back down. Also I'll manage without overpriced wax jackets or any more tartan car blankets.

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  34. It's tragic that money and private ownership has spiralled to these levels of greed and self-entitled supremacy - when are they removing the word 'National' from their name?
    Maybe anyone with any photos should remove them and just tell everyone else "it was utter crap and looked an eyesore, don't bother".

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  35. It's no different than say Trafalgar Square in the middle of London though. You need to pay a fee and get a licence for comercial images. Loads of places all over the country have the same 'rules'.

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  36. Much like the old wives tail about Facebook charging an annual subscription... Its unlikely to happen and unenforceable...

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  37. The Countryside Alliance would probably support what the NT are doing. However whilst they may argue photographs taken whilst exercising the right of open access that fall as commercial activities that their rules require payment for. There would be no basis if you were to take your landscape photo whilst on a public right of way as long as you were not using the right of way just to reach a point to take the photo.

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  38. Stock image sites will not usually accept photos of identifiable buildings or individuals, so easily identifiable images may be rejected even if they are very well known because of image ownership rights. I think this could be a real problem if NT choose to enforce it.

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  39. I cancelled my membership of The National Years ago, because they are a bunch of greedy money grabbing T*****!!s. This just goes to prove my point.......well I shall continue to take photos on their land and put them up for sale on my very successful site - so sue me, go ahead.....idiots.

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  40. National Trust Wales is headed by a lying exploiter, has raised charges for rights I have exercised for 80 years their other part Operation Neptune allows them to charge for access to most of the coast of the UK
    Nasty no nothing right wing destroyers of the environment and Listed Buildings see www.loveitorloseit.info

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  41. Surly if you join the NT that gives you access to use NT property including taking images, commercial success aside surly its free advertising for the NT as in good coverage and not this awful money grubbing and grabbing nasty own a view altitude...................beggars belief...........see you in court

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  42. Have just read you cannot copyright a name, a link below refers,

    https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p18_copyright_names

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  43. Thanks everyone for the comments. Please note, I cannot moderate any further comments until tomorrow evening. I have to field comments to avoid spam! All appropriate comments will be published asap.

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  44. If they are going to charge £200 per hr then the photographer can clame that he is only working while the camera is taking the photo, if the shutter speed it 1 500th of a second, he owes them 1.1111p for taking the photo

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  45. We entrust our heritage to an exploitative organisation, an organisation governed in a way that mirrors feudal land ownership. A progressive Trust would engage all in creatinine sustainable development of publically owned estates.

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