A funny little incident occurred this week when the organization that manages English historic sites claimed copyright over every image ever taken of Stonehenge. According to the blog of the image library fotoLibra, the organization English Heritage sent them the following message:
We are sending you an email regarding images of Stonehenge in your fotoLibra website. Please be aware that any images of Stonehenge can not be used for any commercial interest, all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.
As of Friday, the English Heritage site has posted a disavowal:
English Heritage looks after Stonehenge on behalf of the nation. But we do not control the copyright of all images of Stonehenge. And we have never tried to do so. We have no problem with photographers sharing images of Stonehenge on Flickr and similar not-for-profit image websites. We encourage visitors to the monument to take their own photographs.
If a commercial photographer enters the land within our care with the intention of taking a photograph of the monument for financial gain, we ask that they pay a fee and abide by certain conditions. English Heritage is a non-profit making organisation and this fee helps preserve and protect Stonehenge for the benefit of future generations. The majority of commercial photographers respect this position and normally request permission in advance of visiting. We regret the confusion caused by a recent email sent to a picture library.
Which doesn't quite explain why the original email went out in the first place. I wonder if some mid-level executive has been reading about expansive copyright claims and just assumed he had the law on his side?