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Author Topic: Can not copyright pictures of Airliners?  (Read 3465 times)
Jonathan Wienke
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« on: February 17, 2005, 02:52:30 PM »
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They are correct to a point. The logo on the aircraft is indeed the intellectual property of Spirit Airlines, but the photographic image is the intellectual property of the photographer. It's somewhat analogous to photographing a person. The person has a say over how the photograph is used, and can sue the photographer if he uses the image commercially or in a defamatory/libelous manner without the consent of the subject. The photographer can sue the subject if the subject makes a bunch of copies of the photo without the permission of the photographer. In the same way, Spirit Airlines has the right to control how their copyrighted/trademarked corporate logo is used by third parties, but that doesn't mean they have the right to use your image without your permission.

Spirit Airlines has no grounds for asserting copyright over your photo as a whole, but they have every right to control how their corporate logo is used for commercial purposes (which would include you using the image on your web site to promote your photography). My recommendation would be to respond to their email and work out some mutually acceptable wording indicating you are the copyright holder of the photo, but the logo on the plane is copyrighted work of Spirit Airlines.
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chrisn
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2005, 05:50:51 PM »
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Hi, Elie.

The photo is yours, no question. U.S. copyright law (which you can research at copyright.gov) is very, very clear about this.

As Jonathan and Howard mentioned, Spirit has the right to be bothersome about commercial use of their logo. But they have no jurisdiction over your First Ammendment rights and no claim to your intellectual property.

While it's possible that a Spirit lawyer is trying to scare you, my guess is that the desist order came from someone who either didn't know better or who doesn't understand the difference between copyright and trademark terminology.

--Chris

Chris Nicholson
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Elie7Elie
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2005, 10:17:59 AM »
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Thanks guys!  you guys are just phenomenal when it comes to providing help.  They were blufffing, I called their bluff and that was the end of it.  Sure, I have to ask their permission to use the picture commercially. However, placing a copyright on the picture is not something they can stop me as I am the owner of the picture.  When I told them hat the copyright is of the picture itself and not their trademark, and that I took the picture from a public place they backed off.  They said an associate will contact me to discuss the public domain issue I raise.  They haven't contacted me yet.
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d2frette
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2005, 01:22:19 PM »
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Just curious, if I take a photo of a celeb walking down the street in public, am I legally allowed to take his/her picture and sell it?

If I take a photo of a Starbucks cup or a Coke can as litter in a ditch, and the name/logo is clear, am I legally allowed to sell it?

If so, extending the point, couldn't I take a photo of an airliner in public and sell it? Assume the airport and airspace is public property (like Chicago O'Hare, albeit controlled, is still public).
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David M. Frette.
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Elie7Elie
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2005, 11:42:31 AM »
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I took a picture of a Spirit Airlines Airbus 321 taking off from the Fort Lauderdale Int'l Airport and placed "copyright by Elie Masara" on it and sent it to some friends.  I then received an e-mail from Spirit asking me to remove the copyright symbol.  They said I can say "Photo by Elie Masara" but not copyright.  They say that the Spirit logo and trademark is the property of Spirit Airlines.  It sure is, but the picture itself is my property.  I took the picture from the airport public parking lot. So I am not sure how they can lay a claim on it.

Anyone can shed light on this or tell me where I can do more reading on it?

Thanks,

Elie
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howard smith
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2005, 02:57:18 PM »
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Interesting question.  I can see the Spirit logo is theirs, but the photo is yours.  Surely they have no expectations of privacy.  They must think you will profit from their logo rather than the photo.  If the plane were crashing (like the Concorde or DC-10 in Chicago several years ago), the image would be a news (and yours).  I can't see that selling the photo and not the logo could be a problem, but I'm no attorney.  I'd call the bluff and just say no,
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bobby sargent
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2005, 05:55:33 PM »
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Well all this copyright is nice and confusing. So why not just photoshop the name of the plane off the photo?

Does having the name on the plane make any difference on how the shot looks.

This seems to be the best and easiest way to solve this problem.

Just a thought.  bs
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howard smith
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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2005, 10:38:13 AM »
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Removing the Spirit logo is an interesting idea.  If it reduces the commercial value, maybe Spirit has a point.  Their logo is adding value.  If the value doesn't change or goes up, I would say Spirit has no claim.  They would not be damaged.  I would guess you will not hear from Spirit about the issues you raised.
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howard smith
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2005, 01:43:11 PM »
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You can certainly take the photo.  But selling it may be harder.  You seeling the celeb's image.  You can't make money because of the celebrity without permission.  Nor can you use it to say the celeb is endorsing a product.

The product I think is OK as long as the use does not harm the products image or is intended to be that product instead of just a cup or can.

To be safe, consult an attorney.
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chrisn
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2005, 01:49:02 PM »
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Yes. You can sell it. You can have it published. You can make a fine art print of it. You'll just run into trouble if you license it for commercial purposes.

Copyright and trademark are different laws for different purposes. You can learn more about both at the websites for the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

(Intellectual property laws are very similar to the U.S.'s for the 150-plus countries that have signed the Berne Convention of 1971. However, there can be some differences; so if you're not from the U.S., you'd do yourself better to research your own nation's statutes.)

--Chris

Chris Nicholson
NicholsonPrints.com, NicholsonSports.com
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