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Photography Question 
Jennifer  L. Bales
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/22/2004

Can an Idea Be Copyrighted?

I was wondering, can I copyright an idea? If I have a great idea for holiday poses, can I copyright that idea or can I only copyright the actual photos? I had a brainstorm idea for holiday photos, but then was viewing other photographer's galleries here on BP and found I was not the first to have this brainstorm idea. I already bought all of the stuff to take the pics, and wanted to be sure I wasn't infringing on any "idea" copyright laws. However, if that person hasn't copyrighted the idea, can I do it? My guess is that I can only copyright my actual photos and not the idea.

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10/28/2005 6:51:14 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  No, although direct duplication - pose for pose, prop for prop - of commercial ads has landed agencies into a court battle.

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10/28/2005 7:06:00 AM

Michelle Ochoa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2005
  You can copyright a design, but here are the problems:
1) It's very costly to do so.
2) All you need to do is change one little thing, and you've found the grey area of copyright laws.
3) It's very hard and costly to enforce.

I've checked out some galleries here, and had to do a double take to see if I was looking at the same gallery twice. I've noticed many people use the same poses on their sites, especially pregnancy poses. I've never seen anyone copyright a pose, so I really don't think you would be infringing on anyone else from this forum. And you're not doing print ads commercially, so that's not a problem either. If you're worried about other people stealing your ideas, don't post them on the Internet. And if one of your clients says, "I've seen that pose before", say, "Yeah, but I make it look better!"

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10/28/2005 2:54:11 PM

Jennifer  L. Bales
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/22/2004
Thanks for the info!! I am starting to think there are no new ideas in photography because even if I THINK I had the idea first, I have discovered that I did not. Oh well, guess it was a good idea if others have used it too!

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10/28/2005 3:45:11 PM

Darren Smith   You don't actually need to register a copyright, it is an automatic right that you have as soon as you create your work, whether its a piece of music, a poem or a photo.

I would suggest that it would be impossible to infringe someones copyright by copying poses from a photograph, because you can be sure that every pose you cn imagine has been shot a million times already.

The only intellectual property rights that you can register are Patents, which don't fit here, TradeMarks which again don't fit here and Designs.

Designs are the only IP that deals with appearances, but they are only applicable to the way a product looks. You would not be able to apply a design right to a photo. If you did, all anyone would have to do to beat it would be to change the model (which your doing anyway) in the photo and it would be different enough to get you out of any trouble.

My advice, study as many photo's as you like, and ones you do like, take the poses etc and use them yourself. Every single pose you can imagine has been used a million times already!


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11/2/2005 12:15:55 AM

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