Royal Opera House threatens to sue blogger over photo row

  • Print
  • Comments (24)

Readers' comments (24)

  • Do we know what copyright the RNO was asserting here?
    Specifically, were these RNO images, reproduced on the Intermezzo blog without permission, or was the RNO trying to assert copyright in images they did not produce?
    The correspondence Intermezzo has published(http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2010/09/without-prejudice-why-all-the-royal-opera-house-posts-have-disappeared.html) supports either reading, but the distinction is clearly important from a legal standpoint.
    Either way, for someone styled "Head of Legal and Business Affairs" to behave this way is bizarre - it betrays an apparent lack of legal understanding and a staggering lack of business acumen and commercial awareness.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Indeed. The legalities or otherwise are completely irrelevant. This story is about business, behaviour and reputation.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Just one point, I believe the Intermezzo blogger is female.
    On the main point, however, Intermezzo is an incredibly well-thought of blog in the Opera field. Because of its work (and the bewilderingly over-designed nature of the ROH's official site), the ROH will have sold a lot of tickets. This is stupid beyond the stupidity of normal in-house lawyers.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This looks very clumsy on the part of the ROH (how to lose friends and irritate people) - but as MTPT says, we need to know if the actual images used are theirs. Did they commission and pay a photographer for both the pictures and the copyright?
    Or are they asserting that any photo of the building is in effect an infringement of their copyright - that they own the IP on the building and any representation of it? Is that possible - can you copyright a publicly displayed object like that?
    If they commissioned that specific picture then they (or the photographer if IP still resides with them) obviously have a right (and possibly a responsibility) to protect it. But surely they could have found a better way of enforcing that right (if only by asking the blogger to credit the source or to pay a nominal usage fee)?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My company has had similar problems with a record label who demanded that we stop using their CD cover art to promote their CDs on our site. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
    As others have said, the 'legal' claim here is not entirely clear. But what hits you in the face is the thinking behind having a lawyer handle this in the first place.
    Surely ROH's Marketing Department could have contacted intermezzo and invited them to develop a relationship where they could have access to ROH images and would provide proper credit accordingly?
    The fact that they didn't suggests the usual arrogance of large organisations who fail to see the power of social media and consequently don't know know who their friends are.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It also suggests a self-important functionary in the 'Legal and Business Affairs' department with far too much time on his hands. Are there no ice cream contracts for him to renegotiate?
    There's a rumour that Head of Press at the ROH plans to meet selected bloggers, and Chief Exec Lord (Tony) Hall has been asked to comment, so clearly this is a pearl-making irritation in the ROH oyster and one wonders for how long the functionary will be in post.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Intermezzo has clarified (http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2010/09/without-prejudice-why-all-the-royal-opera-house-posts-have-disappeared.html?cid=6a00d834ff890853ef013487333bf9970c#comment-6a00d834ff890853ef013487333bf9970c) that the pictures were a mixture of "ROH Images" (images created ROH press purposes, with copyright held presumably by the photographers or ROH) and "Intermezzo Images" (images created by Intermezzo at curtain calls).
    As to the ROH Images, it's clear that the ROH mostly likely has the right (and potentially, as Huw Sayer notes above, the obligation) to demand that they be removed from the Intermezzo blog.
    The position of the Intermezzo Images is more difficult, and will rest upon the contractual position as between Intermezzo and the ROH. Assuming the ROH is also attacking these images, this must rest on ticket t&c which purport to assign the copyright in images created by ticket holders to the ROH. I've certainly come across such t&c before (indeed, have deployed them), and have a sensible role to play in controlling exploitation of performances.
    It doesn't lessen the stupidity of ROH's manner, but there may be a firmer legal foundation to their claims than their poorly written e-mails could suggest.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It occurs to me that there's also a claim for breach of dramatic work copyright in the performance, but - if what Intermezzo says is correct - I don't see how that can realistically apply to a curtain call.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Re copyright of buildings: i did some work at and on behalf of the National Portrait Gallery a while ago. I was told we were not allowed to photograph or video the new entrance hall as "the copyright was owned by the architects". That seemed bizarre and idiosyncratic. But maybe they are not alone...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You have a picture of the ROH alongside your story. Have you received threats of infringement?
    Aside from that, it is difficult to see how the copywrite (sic!) of artists could be infringed by displaying pictures of the ROH.
    But please, JD, not all of us who have been in-house are stupid.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (24)