The British Journal of Photography reports that Getty Images is pursuing a copyright claim against the campaigns of US Senate candidates Sharron Angle and David Vitter, alleging that they used one of its photographic images out of context and without a proper licence. According to the report's author, Olivier Laurent, British photographer Chris Floyd shot a story for the British version of GQ magazine back in 2006 called "The Minutemen". This story focused on a citizen group whose main concern was illegal immigration into the US. It appears that Floyd, accompanied by a journalist, visited the Mexican town of Altar, a place of transit for would-be illegal immigrants heading for the border. The image shown here was published in GQ before being made available through Getty Images for editorial (and presumably therefore non-political) purposes only.
|Illegal? Immigrants? How can you tell |
when all you can see is the photo?
The IPKat notes that, in the United Kingdom, the author of a work (in this case, the photographer) enjoys under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s.80, the right to object to derogatory treatment of his work. for the purposes of that section, s.80(2) defines treatment:
"(a)“treatment” of a work means any addition to, deletion from or alteration to or adaptation of the work, other than—The IPKat wonders whether the caption of a photograph, being a literary work, can in generaly be regarded as part of a photograph, which is an artistic work, for moral rights purposes. He also wonders whether, if no caption is given to the photograph by the photographer, the subsequent mis-captioning of a photograph to which no further change is made could qualify as a "treatment", however derogatory it may be.
(i)a translation of a literary or dramatic work, or
(ii)an arrangement or transcription of a musical work involving no more than a change of key or register; and
(b)the treatment of a work is derogatory if it amounts to distortion or mutilation of the work or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author or director".
Merpel isn't as interested in the copyright aspect as much as in the value of an illustration which doesn't effectively illustrate. The photograph above could equally well be captioned "Mexican lads in Altar", "Illegal Aliens", "Hispanic lads in San Diego" or "Alfonso, Pedro and Diego on holiday in Bournemouth" -- and no reader would be any the wiser. So what does it illustrate?