What price a picture?

Auctions of works of art frequently make the headlines for the astonishing price collectors are prepared to pay for a masterpiece.  These are usually paintings or sculptures but photographs have been known to attract large price tickets where the subject was well known or the photographer was a master of the art.

Last Supper
Leonardo da Vinci

Two Sisters

However, a new phenomenon has developed in Adderbury.  Our Berry Hill Road lawyer who sought to have two judicial reviews to overturn parish council decisions has taken grave exception to my including his photograph in blogs outlining the decision of the court which found both applications wholly without merit.

He is threatening to claim damages for breach of copyright and is valuing his photograph at £10,000 per day of exposure on this web site.

Given that Leonardo’s Last Supper has been on public display for 519 years, a similar daily value on this masterpiece would make its value some £2 billion so Mr Davies seems to be ranking his visage well above that of the wistful and enigmatic Mona Lisa!

Mandolin & Guitar

Now, of course, I can’t show you his picture to allow you to decide whether his estimation of its value is fair and reasonable because I would be breaching his copyright.  However, I can provide you with a link to his business web site where you can inspect his likeness in a friendly video recording.  Tell me what you think. Worth every penny of £10,000 per day?



About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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2 Responses to What price a picture?

  1. Something people need to understand is that EVERY image published on the web is copyright, even if this is not stated. The only exception is on “creative commons” sites such as Wikipedia, where you have to fill in a form proving your ownership of the photograph you are submitting and waiving your rights to it.
    I get a shock when I see images of mine (not of me: no one would want them) plastered on other people’s websites and blogs and presented as if they owned them. Some of the photographs I took myself were acquired with great difficulty, and my old prints and postcards were acquired at personal expense (sometimes £50+ each).
    The other problem that has been caused by people such as yourself who lift other people’s photographs off websites is that many owners of photographs will not allow me to use them on the web (even for a fee) because it makes them too easy to steal.
    I agree, though, that £10,000 per day is a ridiculous figure (although it is giving me ideas…).

  2. Daniel Noone says:

    Stephanie is absolutely correct and I’m surprised that Keith – who claims to have had a successful career in publishing – would not have been fully aware of the Copyright Act. It hasn’t changed that much since Keith would have had to abide by that law – there is only a defence if you had reason to believe that there was no copyright over the work eg. that more than 70 years had passed since the death of the owner, or that the owner had renounced copyright.

    Now the issue of the fee being sought is an interesting one and will be likely judged on three counts:

    1. How much would the owner of the image have charged Keith for the specific use of that photo. Well I guess after all the criticism directed his way by the infringer it would need to be a lot of money to get a licence.

    2. Flagrancy – This is one of the most important aspects to consider, if Keith lifted the image himself and knew that the owner had not been dead for more than 70 yrs then the courts can award additional damages. Luckily you don’t have google ad’s running on your blog or it could be seen as flagrancy and criminality – maximum jail term of two years for that!

    3. Moral prejudice – This is the only new bit of legislation that Keith would not have had exposure to during his publishing career and it’s originated from EU law. When awarding damages, the court can take into account any “moral prejudice” caused to the owner, even if there is no monetary loss associated with it

    This could turn out to be an expensive mistake as there is no defence to the infringement, most cases are settled out of court on a negotiated fee basis because the courts have the ability to add extra awards based on the above criteria as well as costs.

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