That design was intended to be very similar to, but not actually copy, a photograph of a very similar scene that had been made by the founder and
Temple Island Collection Ltd v New English Teas Ltd. and Another (No. 1)  EWPCC 21 (29 July 2011). It was common ground that "no photocopying style reproduction" had taken place, that the defendants' work was created from photographs that the second defendant had taken himself and that the whole point of the exercise was to avoid infringing. Yet the claimant sued the defendants for copyright infringement in Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd and Another (No. 2)  EWPCC 1 (12 January 2012) and won despite Mr. Justice Lloyd's robust judgment in the Oasis case 15 years earlier. Why was this?
Judge Birss QC's judgment in Temple Island makes no reference to Creation Records which could be because neither counsel cited it and he didn't think of it or because neither he nor the parties believed it to be relevant. If it was for the second reason I should be surprised because the facts and arguments seem very similar, at least to me.
Mr. Gallagher's effort in constructing his set in Creation Records seems to have involved far more thought and work than that of the claimant's managing director in Temple Island. Mr. Justice Lloyd described his arrangement at paragraph  of his judgment in Creation:
"Mr Noel Gallagher, who it seems has control of the artwork, supervised the placing of various objects around the pool, which by then had been partly refilled with water, until he was satisfied with the scene including the positioning of the members of the group. Photographs were then taken of the scene by Mr Michael Spencer Jones over a period of time from mid-afternoon to late at night so that the group would have a choice of images in different lights and from different angles and heights. Mr Gallagher exhibits to his affidavit a photograph which, he says, he envisaged as being used for the front sleeve of the album. This has the swimming pool in the foreground with the Rolls Royce seemingly emerging from the water towards the camera. The hotel is beyond and to the right. In the far distance is a wooded area with a partly clouded sky above. The five members of the group are posed round the pool, one on a scooter, one climbing out of the pool and others with or near other objects seemingly unrelated to each other. The various objects were ordered two days before from a warehouse in London; none of them was made for the purpose."Similarly, Judge Birss QC related how the claimant's photograph came into existence between paragraphs  and  of his judgment in Temple Island:
"4. ................. The claimant's managing director Mr Fielder created the work by taking a photograph in August 2005. He wanted to create a single, modern and iconic scene of London. Having taken images of the river and the Houses of Parliament for many years Mr Fielder knew where to stand. In fact the place he stood is where many tourists also stand with their cameras. He knew he would be able to capture the bus heading to the south side of the river and thus show the front of the vehicle. He could ensure that other landmarks, i.e. Parliament, Westminster Bridge, and the river, were included and he would have a strong skyline.
5. Once the photograph was taken Mr Fielder manipulated it on his computer using a well know standard piece of software called Photoshop. He had the idea of making the red bus stand against a black and white background from the film Schindler's List. That film includes striking use of the technique in a different context.
6. In summary the manipulations Mr Fielder undertook were: the red colour of the bus was strengthened; the sky was removed completely by (electronically) cutting around the skyline of the buildings; the rest of the image was turned to monochrome save for the bus; some people present in the foreground of original photograph were removed (there was a small group on the stairs and a person at the top under the lamppost); and the whole original image was stretched somewhat to change the perspective so that the verticals in the buildings were truly vertical. Mr Fielder spent about 80 hours on this including the photography trips."
The judge continued at  that the claimant's image became famous in its industry and was used not just for its mugs, key fobs and stationery which were distributed by the National Gallery among others but was also licensed to Historic Royal Palaces. However, the release of an album of a well known group of musicians was not without commercial significance.
In Creation Records it was argued that that the scene itself (the arrangement or composition of the members of the group, the various objects and the site) was a copyright work as a sculpture or collage within the meaning of s.4 (1) (a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as a work of artistic craftsmanship within the meaning of s,4 (1) (c). Mr. Justice Lloyd did not see how that could be so. It was also argued faintly that the scene was a dramatic work. Since the scene was inherently static, having no movement, story or action, the judge could not accept that argument either. As he put it at paragraph :
"I do not regard this as seriously arguable. I do not see how the process of assembling these disparate objects together with the members of the group can be regarded as having anything in common with sculpture or with artistic craftsmanship. No element in the composition has been carved, modelled or made in any of the other ways in which sculpture is made (see Breville (Europe) Pic v Thorn EMI Domestic Appliances Limited  FSR 77 at 94). Nor does it seem to me to be the subject or result of the exercise of any craftsmanship (see George Hensher Limited v. Restawile Upholstery (Lanes) Ltd.  A.C 64, especially Lord Simon at 91)."
The judge considered Martin Mann QC's decision in Shelley Films Limited v. Rex Features Ltd.  E.M.L.R 134 where the learned deputy judge held that it was at least seriously arguable that a film set prepared for the film to be called "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" was a work of artistic craftsmanship so that an unauthorised photograph taken of an actor on the set was a breach of copyright in the set as well, for different reasons, as of other elements in the photograph. He distinguished that case on the basis that a photographer's arrangement was an ephemeral composition for the purpose of a photograph with no independent existence of its own:
"Mr Gallagher's composition from all of those examples as being put together solely to be the subject matter of a number of photographs and disassembled as soon as those were taken. This composition was intrinsically ephemeral, or indeed less than ephemeral, in the original sense of that word of living only for one day. This existed for a few hours on the ground. Its continued existence was to be in the form of a photographic image."
The second argument in Creation Records was that The Sun's photo was a copy of the official Oasis photograph regardless of the order in which they were taken. His lordship could not see how that could be so. He observed at paragraph :
"Of course copyright subsists in the official photograph and if it were the only source of the scene it would be an infringement to copy that, either by a direct copying process or by the scene being recreated and a fresh photograph taken of that recreation. But it is a basic proposition of copyright law that two works created from a common source do not by reason of that fact involve copying one of the other, however similar they are. Nothing in Bauman v. Fussell  R.P.C. 485 is inconsistent with this."
It was finally argued that Mr Gallagher was the author of any photograph because he had set the scene and arranged the angle and lighting of the shot. The judge dismissed that argument on the ground that it is the person who takes the photo (that is to say, presses the shutter button) who can ordinarily claim to be the author of the work.
In Temple Island Judge Birss was taken to a decision of the Austrian Supreme Court in O (Peter) v F KG ( ECDR 9) from which he concluded at paragraph  of his judgment that:
"A photograph of an object found in nature or for that matter a building, which although not natural is something found by the creator and not created by him, can have the character of an artistic work in terms of copyright law if the task of taking the photograph leaves ample room for an individual arrangement. What is decisive are the arrangements (motif, visual angle, illumination, etc.) selected by the photographer himself or herself."
He also relied on the commentary in the text book Laddie Prescott & Vitoria (4th Ed.) in paragraphs 4.60 and 4.61 that copyright in a photo resides in the aspects for which there is room for originality, namely:
- specialities of angle of shot, light and shade, exposure and effects achieved with filters, developing techniques and so on;
- the creation of the scene to be photographed; and
- being in the right place at the right time.
Taking the second and third two aspects together, he concluded at paragraph :
" The relevant point in this case seems to me to be that the composition of a photograph is capable of being a source of originality. The composition of an image will certainly derive from the "angle of shot" (which Laddie Prescott and Vitoria categorise in sub-paragraph (i)) but also from the field of view, from elements which the photographer may have created and from elements arising from being at the right place at the right time. The resulting composition is capable of being the aggregate result of all these factors which will differ by degrees in different cases. Ultimately however the composition of the image can be the product of the skill and labour (or intellectual creation) of a photographer and it seems to me that skill and labour/intellectual creation directed to that end can give rise to copyright."
Since Sir Hugh Laddie and other members of 8 New Square published the first edition of their bible, the digital camera and mobile phone have been invented and photographic editing software such as Photoshop have appeared. That has given rise to what the judge rightly called a 4th aspect in which there is room for originality, namely the setting of the photo using such software. In my exceedingly humble and tremulous opinion that is the only possible point of difference between the situation in Temple Island and that in Creation Records. In designing their packaging the defendants had the claimant's image as generated by the software in mind and it was that which they had copied.
In reaching his decision Judge Birss found objective similarity between the two works and evidence of access:
"55. On the question of copying, I find that the common elements between the defendants' work and the claimant's work are causally related. In other words, they have been copied. There are two points. First the evidential onus to address a point like that is on the defendants here given the obvious similarities between the claimant's and defendants' work and the undoubted access of the defendants to the claimant's work. Mr Houghton did not refer to any particular element and assert that it came from a source independent of Mr Fielder. Sphere did not give evidence at all.
56 I have referred to the obvious similarities between the works. The defendants went to considerable lengths to point up the differences between the images. They analysed the overall composition which is said to be very different both vertically and horizontally. The balance of foreground, middle ground and far ground features were analysed and said to be different in key respects. The fact the river is absent from the defendants' work was pointed out. These differences all exist but it seems to me that on the question of copying they do not help. In this case it is not a coincidence that both images show Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in black and white with a bright red bus driving from right to left and a blank white sky. The reason the defendants' image is like that is obviously because Mr Houghton saw the claimant's work. The differences do not negative copying, on the facts of this case they have a bearing on whether a substantial part is taken (but taking care to bear in mind Designer's Guild).
57. Second Mr Houghton did not suggest he had seen any of the other similar works relied on above before seeing Mr Fielder's image. The whole point of this case is that Mr Houghton and his company wish lawfully to produce an image which does bear some resemblance to the claimant's work. The inference that I draw is that Mr Houghton sought out this other material after he had decided to produce an image similar to the claimant's. He found examples of common elements in various different places. That does not avoid a causal link. If Mr Houghton had seen Mr Fielder's image, decided he wanted to use a similar one, found the Rodriguez or Getty photographs and put one of those on his boxes of tea, there would be no question of infringement. Those images are not causally related to Mr Fielder's, they are independent works. But that is not what happened. At best the defendants used these other images to show that certain individual elements in Mr Fielder's work can also be found elsewhere. That does not make those different sources the actual origin of an element in the defendants' image. I reject the submission that the other similar works acted as a relevant independent source for the defendants."
I have to say that although I follow the logic I feel very uneasy at Judge Birss's decision in Temple Island. It seems to come very close to protecting copyright in an idea as opposed to expression. That is something that art 9 (2) of TRIPS says cannot be.
Should anyone wish to discuss this case, he or she should give me a call on 0800 862 0055 or complete my contact form. You can also contact me through twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Xing,
9 Feb 2015 I have just received the following email:
Dear Jane Lambert,
I tried to reply to your blog piece about the Temple Island Collections Ltd Vs New English Teas Ltd court case, but having typed in the comment I was informed that it was too many characters long so I thought I'd try here instead. You're welcome to reply if you wish to but not obliged to.
Without getting angry and posting in a such fashion that would be deemed offensive I have to say that this situation is particularly worrying for both professional and amateur photographers. I myself believe that if you are at least a half competent photographer being given a commission to photograph a building or a scenic location then you would be able to work your way around to find the best composition. At that point having done so and taken the shot it would in turn almost mirror the previous photographs taken by other photographers.
For those with an artistic education or an Open College of the Arts Photography Degree will more than likely produce photographs of much similarity in even more difficult to mirror locations because they are all taught with the same basics.
All this for photographers of all skill levels has come at the wrong time - a time when people with cameras are coming under scrutiny for their volume of use. We now suffer over ego'd shop security staff leaving their place of employment to pursue 'out of their jurisdiction', members of the public who wish to take photos of beautifully designed modern buildings. These business's are quite happy to design buildings that draw people in to spend their money but not happy for the same buildings design to attract people to take a few photos.
Someone once wrote "sometimes the best things about something are also the worst things" meaning that what makes something so popular also is the root cause of it becoming so unpopular. Back when I was using a 35mm film SLR people liked being photographed, having their car and other possessions photographed but unfortunately due to a handful of unsavoury characters using their cameras for the wrong purposes, we the genuine artists are forced to pay with reduced levels of photographic freedom.
Such an unsavoury character as far as photographic freedom is concerned would be the claimant Mr Justin Fielder whose photograph of the red bus crossing Westminster bridge was by far the better of the two images anyway. And considering that the two companies sold entirely different products you have to ask if there was really any case to answer apart from one party who's image I believe gained more fame from the court case than it did from the packaging and products it was used on.
My concern here (being entirely ignorant of how Judges operate) is whether Judge Birss QC was correctly advised on the use of Photoshop. The program Photoshop of which the latest version (CS6) currently retails in the UK for £549.00 and anyone who is serious about their photography, Professional or amateur will endeavour to fund the purchase of this valuable piece of software. Which in turn brings me to the subject of the program and I ask - can it really be called the 4th aspect? The technique used by the claimant Mr Justin Fielder is not so much a technique, but more of a setting in Photoshop itself.
Are we to believe that Judge Birss QC would allow the claimant Mr Justin Fielder to copyright a technique that is already copyrighted through Adobe Photoshop's copyright policy anyway. It's a setting that works like this.........
1) Take a photograph in full colour
2) Open it in Photoshop
3) Choose 'desaturate image'
4) Select 'History Brush'
5) Move History Brush over the parts of the image that you wish to return the colour.
6) Save the finished image under a different name.
This process takes so little time and has been described and used in magazines for many years and the claimant Mr Justin Fielder cannot possibly be considered as the pioneer of this technique.
I know that I am a bit late posting about this but I do feel aggrieved every time I come across this court case on the internet. I did see the original article in Amateur Photographer Magazine a couple of years ago and it infuriated me then. I know that English Teas have been given the right to appeal and I hope they do even if not for any other reason than standing up for photographers rights and common sense.
If English Teas should attempt and fail to overturn the original court ruling I do wonder how far this legal disease will spread - will artists who paint very similar landscapes due to their Open College of the Arts degree education be made to defend themselves in court in the future? How about Guitarists who use techniques of playing that were discovered by others?
What happens if other countries across the world refuse to adhere to courts ruling in this country? Will they come here and photograph as they see fit and publish their works back home in a way that our very own people are unable to here?
I only hope that my points of view here can be offered perhaps in better wording to the Judge who would oversee the appeal should it ever go ahead - if not then it could in time affect everything to do with photography in Britain - especially sales of photographic equipment which are already starting to drop due to the natural popularity falloff you get when people have spent what they are going to on a new electronic format.
We have been described as "Britain - a country of photographers" and I only hope we can stay that way.
Anyway my point of view expressed I wish you well Jane and also much success.
With kind regards,
Michael Stretton - an amateur photographer.
"Is this a copy? John Kaldor Fabricmaker UK Ltd v Lee Ann Fashions Ltd" 11 Dec 2014
"Monkey Business - copyright in a photo where the shutter is operated by an animal" 7 Aug 2014