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PCC considers copyright in iconic London images

20 January 2012

The Patents County Court (PCC) has found that copyright in a predominantly black and white photograph featuring a red London bus on Westminster Bridge (below left), was infringed by a later image created by combining two images using image manipulation software (below right).

Although the two final images are clearly the product of different photographs, the PCC held that on a qualitative assessment Image 2 reproduced a substantial part of Image 1 and therefore infringed.

Given that the two images are taken from a very different perspective this decision seems to grant very wide copyright protection to the claimant. Here the defendant has infringed by reproducing an image of a classic London icon from a location which the judgment acknowledges is popular with photographers, and has applied a well-known editing technique to isolate the red colour of the bus.

Although there are similarities, this decision pushes the very limits of what is protectable in a photographic image.

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