Archive for August, 2011

Legal and practical aspects of wedding photography

You join me as I prepare for my wedding on Friday. The amount of people asking “how are you feeling” or “how are you doing?” is making me wonder: am I going to get married, or I am going to jail? (Some grim-faced elder statesmen at Brodies LLP tell me that it’s a bit of both.)

Of course, the happy occasion presents the perfect opportunity to blog about some of the legal aspects of wedding photography.

Anybody who has got married is probably familiar with what I call “Wedding Tax”, whereby any service automatically doubles in price if it is to be provided as part of a wedding celebration. Photography is a good example of this crude “taxation”. If you pay a wedding photographer the payment will typically be for the photographer’s time and an allocated number of prints. Any additional prints must be ordered via the photographer, at an additional cost.

This is because under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998, copyright in a photo vests in the photographer (or his/her employer), even where you commission the photo.  So any reproduction of the prints without  permission will be an infringement of the photographer’s rights.

However, if you commission a photo for “private and domestic” purposes then you do have rights to stop it being displayed against your wishes. These stem from the “moral rights” that were introduced into UK law in 1988. I know one IP/IT lawyer who asserted her moral rights in order to get her wedding photograph removed from the photographer’s window display (but the same thing could apply to a web site).

Finally, remember that photos can constitute personal data in terms of the UK data protection legislation.  So “processing” a photo (which is a very wide concept) technically requires the consent of all the people in it.  The link between photographs in public places, privacy and data protection was explored in detail in the case of Murray v Big Pictures (UK), which involved publication of pictures of JK Rowling’s infant son.  However, I suspect that outside of celebrity culture this is quite a low risk.  I mean imagine I had to get my brother’s consent before showing a group photo to my wife’s family. Nuts.

Happily my wedding photos are being taken by my friend, Martin, who co-runs Ladybird Photography so I’m not paying some crazy price, and Martin is also going to give me access to all the photos he will take (in exchange for a little free publicity).

So in summary, if you are thinking of engaging a wedding photographer, engage Martin because he is a nice guy who takes superb photos – no pressure Martin – or at least clarify the following points:
1. How many prints or photos you are getting access to. (This risk of “photo ransom” can actually be compared to “data ransom”, which we have blogged about previously.)
2. What you can do with them
3. What the photographer can do with them in the future.

John “Dead Man Walking” McGonagle

[Ed – All the best to John from the Brodies’ Techbloggers.]


ICO confirms that Twitter is a valid method of making a request for information under FOI

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed its view that tagging a public authority’s Twitter account in a tweet can be sufficient to constitute a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

This may come as a surprise to a number of public authorities already struggling to manage and monitor requests for information under FOIA.

Making a request
Unlike a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998, a request for information does not need to be made in a particular form, or even identify itself as a request for information. It must simply be made in writing and identify the name of the applicant.

The ICO states that provided the applicant’s Twitter ID or profile gives its real name, that will be sufficient.

Monitoring of @mentions
In many instances, Twitter will be used by public authorities just for information dissemination to the public (for example, for realtime information), and not for engaging in conversations with other Twitter users.

However, given the ICO’s guidance, it is important that public authorities maintaining Twitter accounts monitor their @mentions for potential requests for information. This will apply not just to a public authority’s main Twitter account, but also (potentially) to Twitter accounts maintained by indvidual departments within that authority or (even) individuals, if they Tweet in the capacity of their job.

Note that the ICO’s guidance only applies to FOIA. It does not apply to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, which applies to Scottish public authorities. It’s not clear what the Scottish Information Commissioner’s view on this is.

Techblogger article in Computing magazine on DP and geolocation services

I have an article in last month’s edition of Computing magazine. The article looks at the recent Article 29 Working Party opinion on data protection and geolocation services. Geolocation services are services that utilise the geolocation data (mobile phone triagulation, GPS, wifi hotspot) on a mobile device.

The article is important reading if you are involved in developing apps or other web-based services that utilise geolocation data. Whilst the Article 29 Working Party’s opinions are not binding law, the opinions do reflect the thinking of the various national data protection regulators, and are also likely to feed into the forthcoming revamp of the data protection directive.

As with a number of other opinions issued by the Article 29 Working Party recently, this opinion focusses heavily on the issue of consent. In particular, it proposes a number of onerous (some might say impractical) obligations upon service providers in relation to obtaining express consent. These go against the UK Information Commissioner’s current guidance on privacy policies which generally takes the view the obvious use does not require to be expressly highlighted.

I think there are also a number of flawed assumptions in how geolocation data is used.

For me, the key thing to take from the opinion is that the Article 29 Working Party doesn’t really understand how geolocation services work. It is therefore critical that those in the industry take part in the consultation on the revised data protection directive to ensure that the new laws are pragmatic and fit for purpose.

You can read my article here.

OFT launches distance selling guidance resource

The Office of Fair Trading has today launched an online resource that provides traders with advice on distance selling rules.

The portal brings together guidance for businesses on the rules and regulations that apply to the sale of certain goods and services over the Internet, by telephone, mail order or through other mediums such as interactive TV, web apps, text message et cetera, and covers things such as cool-off periods and refund rights.

Screenshot of OFT Distance Selling Hub

You can find the guidance here: OFT Distance Selling Hub.

Twitter: @BrodiesTechBlog feed

August 2011
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