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Pub Signs - Is there a point to photographing them?

Henchard

Hi I'm your typical 'grumpy old git' who takes the odd snap now and again. Don't come here much and really don't give a 'monkey's' about what camera you have or don't have or whether you like or dislike my photos.

On the other hand if you want to say hi and chat about photographs please do!

PS If you get an award from me it isn't necessarily a good thing!
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Pub Signs - Is there a point to photographing them?

11 Apr 2009 7:27PM   Views : 941 Unique : 736

Recently (well over the last few months anyway) here in EPZ land there seems to be an outbreak of people photographing pub signs. Not photographing them in any way where the pub sign forms part of a composition - which I could understand, but just the pub sign.

Firstly this is almost certainly a breach of the original artist's copyright and secondly what is the point? In fact I do believe that at least one photo of a pub sign I saw had over 70 clicks. Is there any artistic merit in taking a shot of someone else's art? Are you so desperate for reciprocal clicks that you'll click on a photograph of someone else's artwork?

In fact 70 clicks for a pub sign is outrageous when compared to something like this that had 9 clicks when I posted this blog.

Why not just nip into your local art gallery and photograph a painting or two?

Comments


Pete 19 18.8k 97 England
12 Apr 2009 3:22PM
I've commented about this before. What's the difference between what you question, and photographing a sculpture that was crafted by someone or, taking it a stage further, a building that's the work of an architect? Or, being real devils advocate, a landscape that is the work of some greater force? It created some interesting debate in the forums a few years ago.
Henchard 16 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
12 Apr 2009 3:41PM

Quote:I've commented about this before. What's the difference between what you question, and photographing a sculpture that was crafted by someone or, taking it a stage further, a building that's the work of an architect? Or, being real devils advocate, a landscape that is the work of some greater force? It created some interesting debate in the forums a few years ago.


Pete there is really no problem when a work of art is incidentally included in a photograph; the legislation seems pretty clear on that. However, to photograph a pub sign full on where it is 'the photograph' would seem to be a clear infringement of the original artists copyright.

People jump up and down here when they see their photo on another website; if you are arguing it is ok to photograph someone's artwork and put it on EPZ then by definition it must be ok for me to photograph other peoples' photos on EPZ and post them on other websites.


From the Artquest Website

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorise the reproduction (or copy) of a work in any medium by any other party. This includes storing a work in electronic form. Any reproduction can only take place with the artist's consent. Permission is usually granted in return for a fee, which enables the artist to derive some income from the use of his or her work by others.

If an artist is commissioned to produce a work he or she will usually retain the copyright unless an agreement is signed which specifically assigns the copyright. When artists are employees and create work during the course of their employment, the employer retains the copyright in those works.

Reproducing an artistic work in copyright without the permission of the copyright owner is an infringement of copyright under UK law. If the work is reproduced in a derogatory manner (for instance, if it has been distorted or mutilated), it is also breach of moral rights.



From The British Copyright Council

Generally, two dimensional works (graphics, surface decoration) attract copyright protection.

Original graphic works, including advertisements, are protected by copyright (see Information Sheet 14 Graphic Designs). Advertisements are likely to be ‘composite’ works in that they may include more than one copyright work, e.g. artistic works in the photographs, illustrations and graphic designs, literary works in the form of text and they may also be protected as typographical arrangements. They may also include logos and registered trade marks. Copyright in an advertisement may belong to more than one person or company e.g. advertising client, advertising agency or design company, designer or photographer. It is rare that copyright in advertisement will belong to the magazine or newspaper in which it appears. Permission is needed from the copyright owner or owners before an advertisement may be reproduced in any form.
riprap007 16 1.6k 37 England
12 Apr 2009 4:08PM
I do not know the intentions of the people who capture an image of these signs, but for me they document an interesting aspect of social history, one that is dissapearing rapidly. This alone is reason enough for me to appreciate this documentary effort. In terms of aesthetic merits and votes, well I think there is little correlation to the two on this or any other similar site.
Henchard 16 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
12 Apr 2009 4:31PM

Quote: but for me they document an interesting aspect of social history, one that is dissapearing rapidly.


Good point (and one I had not thought about - so maybe there is a reason for photographing them); but I doubt that makes any difference to the legal position.

Once again I would stress the hypocrisy of members who jump up and down when they see one of their images copied elsewhere but who feel it is quite ok to copy other peoples artwork.
Pete 19 18.8k 97 England
12 Apr 2009 6:37PM

Quote:if you are arguing

I'm not arguing, I just find it interesting to know where people draw this line.


Quote:Generally, two dimensional works (graphics, surface decoration) attract copyright protection.

Why should two dimensional work be any more protected than three dimensional works?
Henchard 16 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
12 Apr 2009 7:48PM

Quote:Why should two dimensional work be any more protected than three dimensional works?


I don't think they are (they are just protected under different parts of the legislation), the The British Copyright Council information sheets go on to point out the difference between copyright protection and design protection (for three dimensional products).

However, this is straying a tad from my original point that (forgetting the copyright issue) there is absolutely no artistic merit in a straightforward copy of a pub sign. Thus clicking on such a photo is perverse IMHO.

Anyway good to see you back Pete. Sorry you have a 'wind up merchant' like me trying to light fires with my blog Wink
Pete 19 18.8k 97 England
12 Apr 2009 11:49PM

Quote:Anyway good to see you back Pete. Sorry you have a 'wind up merchant' like me trying to light fires with my blog

lol who would that be Wink


Quote:there is absolutely no artistic merit in a straightforward copy of a pub sign


And is there any more artistic merit in a straightforward statue shot, building or landscape?

Wind up merchant no 2
riprap007 16 1.6k 37 England
13 Apr 2009 8:59AM
I have seen photographs that 'improve' a sculpture by concentrating on the essence of the work, photographs that add or change the landscape by the addition of a timed exposure element - to reveal something one is not able to see in real time, or changes in saturation to enhance the hues or drain the hues to monotone, again revealing differing elements. All of these instances have artistic merit. As I stated previously there can be social historical merit in photographing a sign, as to artistic merit... well it would be easier to argue the case if there was an addition of something, be it solarization technique, long exposure... the easiest way though would be to ask the photographers concerned to see if they were able to articulate their reasoning.
edsephiroth 14 169 9 United Kingdom
19 Apr 2009 2:36PM
As I argued in a similar post recently, I think what's clear is there is a difference between:

a) taking a photo of someone's else's artwork (statue, sculpture, pub sign, painting, whatever) for posterity
b) to re-interpret it adding an element of your own creativity that might be subtle or completely removed from the intention of the original artist involved, or
c) as I think Henchard was mainly concerned with in the original post - simply confusing taking a "documentary" photo of a piece of art someone else made and then saying "ta-daa!" as if the creative element was your own, when really all you have done is use a piece of equipment to record an image - as has been mentioned - why not simply walk round an art gallery snapping the paintings and then posting them on a photography website...??

Of course there are grey lines all over the place within this issue - if you take a photo of a ruined abbey or one of those little stone cottages in Yorkshire people seem so fond of - if there was any creative human input then you could make the some of the same arguments that it's really only piggy-backing on someone else's creativity, but I think you have to be realistic and acknowledge there's a big difference between a creatively composed and presented photograph of some remnant of human endeavor, and taking a picture of a painting someone else made hanging outside a building that's (in most cases) still in use!

The "preserving for posterity" angle is a completely different argument that validates the taking of such pictures, but in a completely different way - wrapping up an ancient piece of artwork and packing it away to preserve it for future generations may be a wonderfully valiant and valuable thing to do, but it wouldn't make you an artist of any kind, would it.
And personally I don't think you should be clogging up the galleries of a photograhy website to document it - surely CAMRA has their own website for "preserving our beer-fuelled heritage"Wink

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