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Korean Photo controversy goes to court
Old 02-27-2014   #1
Bill58
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Korean Photo controversy goes to court

Korean Air, who has asked RFF members several times to submit their photos to a photo contest, has found themselves in a court battle over the copyright infringement of a professional photographer's photo. Here a link to the story:

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/...px?aid=2985536
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Old 02-27-2014   #2
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I hear sensible arguments from both sides here. Kenna sounds like a decent person.
The decision will probably pivot around details of the airline's behavior.
They did change the name of their legally-obtained picture to Kenna's photo - that's kind of questionable.

Quote from the complaining photographer (Kenna):

“It seems there is some confusion in the photographic community regarding my court case with Korea Air,” Kenna said in a statement. “I would like to state as clearly as possible that I completely defend the rights of all photographers to photograph whatever they want to. Some people are saying that I do not want anybody else to photograph the pine trees on Sol Island. This is absolute nonsense and completely incorrect. I love that Sol Island is now so well known and many photographers go there. The amateur photographer’s image that Korean Air used in their television advertisement is really quite beautiful and I congratulate him.”
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Old 02-27-2014   #3
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It's not the same angle, composition, colour, sky, or even field of view.

I have a lot of sympathy for photographers whose work has been pirated or copied, but this seems like someone trying to copyright an island.

Perhaps no one should ever photograph Yosemite without the permission of the Adams estate?
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Old 02-27-2014   #4
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Not sure what Michael Kenna was thinking here, does he think he has the exclusive rights to photograph this Island? Kenna is one of my favorite photographers but he is dead wrong on this one. Completely different images and even if they were more similar than they are it is still not his photograph.
I really hope he will loose this one big time.
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Old 02-27-2014   #5
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This case is ridiculous. I spend most of the year on the Isle of Skye. There are many well known locations which are photographed by the world and his wife. Many photography courses visit these locations. Are we all supposed to find out who took the first published photographs of the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, or Elgol or any of the other standard views so that we can correctly label them "after photographer x". Nonsense!
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Old 02-27-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveleo View Post
I hear sensible arguments from both sides here. Kenna sounds like a decent person.
The decision will probably pivot around details of the airline's behavior.
They did change the name of their legally-obtained picture to Kenna's photo - that's kind of questionable.
This to me seems to be the crux of the case, without using the (apparently) iconic title of the photograph would this even be an issue?
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Old 02-27-2014   #7
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Wow, if we can start copywriting content and framing... the world won't have anything to photograph.
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Old 02-27-2014   #8
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Those are very different photographs, the b/w is so much better.
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Old 02-27-2014   #9
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Waste of bandwidth...
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Old 02-28-2014   #10
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An interesting case and a concerning one.

I've never heard of Kenna before but if his image is as well known in Korea as the article suggests then Korea Airs use of his exact title would seem to me to be a clear desire to 'piggy back' the success and popularity of his original image using a very similar, if at the same time obviously different image. This is the part that I understand and would sympathise with.
Trying to copyright the intellectual concepts of composition, exposure etc etc within photography seems like a path to enriching lawyers and making photography for all that much poorer.
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Old 02-28-2014   #11
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In the music industry this type of dispute is common, driven by the fact that royalties are spilt based on the percentage of the final song which is original and the percentage derivative. It is certainly not impossible to consider this as a possible precedent in visual arts.
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Old 02-28-2014   #12
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I'm betting that it will go against Kenna for at least the following reasons:

Korea Air is owned by the gov't.
Their courts often don't make their decisions based on a strict interpretation of the law and even seem contrived.
Their courts are widely held to not be independent.
Copying and plagiarism is common in the country.
Last but not least, the plaintiff is a Korean Art Gallery, but Kenna is a foreigner.
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Old 02-28-2014   #13
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I'm a photographer (as are most here ), and my knee-jerk reaction is always to side with my brethren. In this case my opinion is the photographer has no case. Who is he to say that it's okay for other photographers to take pictures of an island he doesn't own, but it's not okay if a company uses a photograph taken by another photographer for part of their advertising? So now the island is referred to by many by a new name -- big woof. In my opinion these kind of weak cases create presidents that will hurt other photographers with more legitimate grievances.
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Old 02-28-2014   #14
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This won`t be an easy case to solve but I also have my concerns that in the case Kenna wins then copyright claims in photography will come to a new level since his claim is not about the content but the title.
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Old 02-28-2014   #15
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Reminds me of the idiocy around the Miles Davis cover case of Jay Maisel.

Kind of screwed

Culture is full of cross-references.
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Old 02-28-2014   #16
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Completely different images...

I guess the change of the title is a bit iffy, but since that's what the island is known for now, I don't see how he can proof K-Air is trying to piggy-back his fame.

And if he wins, does that mean any future photograph taken of the island cannot be named "Solseom"?
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Old 02-28-2014   #17
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The point is not the composition being similar, it's that they deliberately changed the title from the Korean photographer's original one to Kenna's.

Let's imagine this in a different way. Would I be allowed to advertise an orange soda, the rights of which I had purchased, that was called Kim's Magical Tonic, but then I renamed it to Coca-Cola and made the label blue and white?
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Old 03-27-2014   #18
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Seems like the ruling has come out in favor of Korean Air (unsurprisingly, as this is a Korean court)

No time to translate the article, but if anyone is interested, http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/bulletin...176900005.HTML







Edit: link to English version (different newspaper, but same case)
http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/...px?aid=2987038
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