It’s a question that would stump even Gandalf. Can people take photographs of film sets for The Lord Of The Rings without permission?
Copyright claims overridden by street shots
The Evening Post
The hush-hush Lord of the Rings project last week erected a sign outside the entrance to its film set in the Lower Hutt suburb of Taita, warning people against taking photographs or videotape footage.
Despite being fenced off, much of the set can be clearly seen from the street.
The sign comes more than a year after several newspapers began publishing photographs of sets. Many Lord Of The Rings fans have also taken photographs and video footage which they display on internet websites.
The sign says people can’t take photographs or video footage as “the set and costumes-props are valuable copyright works”. It also warns that the film company Three Foot Six, which is making The Lord Of The Rings, could expose any film and erase any video footage.
John Terry, of patent and trade mark attorneys Baldwin Shelston Waters in Wellington, said the sign was correct if someone set foot on the property. But if the photographs or videotape were taken while a person stayed on a public space the sign was only partly correct. Under the Copyright Act, the public would infringe copyright if photographs or video footage were taken of costumes, props and “mobile structures”.
However, most sets were fixed structures so were defined as buildings, Mr Terry said. The public was allowed to take photographs or video footage of buildings without infringing copyright, so long as they were taken from a public space.
Mr Terry said even if the photographs or video footage were taken of costumes or props, no-one had to hand over film or videotape.
“They can’t just walk up and take your camera away from you. That’s basically theft. What they would have to do in that situation is bring a (legal) action against you for copyright infringement and get a court order that you deliver up your camera.”