Archive for December, 2013

Copyright warning: Spare Rib digitisation project

18th December, 2013

The British Library is proposing to digitise its collection of issues of Spare Rib, the pioneering feminist magazine published monthly from 1972 to 1993. In order to distribute the magazine free of charge whilst it is still in copyright, the library has chosen to ask contributing photographers, illustrators and writers to sign a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 3.0 Unported licence.

Amongst other things, this licence allows the licensee to “copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format”, and to “remix, transform, and build upon the material”. There is an excellent explanation of why this is a very bad – and totally unnecessary – idea by Spare Rib contributor Gillian Spraggs on the Action on Authors’ Rights blog. Anyone contacted by the British Library should read it carefully, and should also consider whether they wish to sign away their rights in perpetuity without payment.

The London Photographers’ Branch believes there are much better ways to implement this initiative without endangering the rights of copyright holders, and will be writing to express our concerns to the former Spare Rib editorial board, and to the British Library via the NUJ Freelance Office.

In the meantime, we strongly recommend that former contributors who receive a request to sign the licence do not do so.

Branch condemns security guard stop of photographer – AGAIN!

16th December, 2013

Last Tuesday, branch member Grant Smith was stopped by security guards outside City Hall while taking a photograph of a friend entering the building to deliver a report on city cycling to the Greater London Authority (GLA). Once again, out came the familiar refrain: “You need permission to take photographs. This is private property”.

The building, and the development around it, is owned by the Kuwaiti government which, in one of the largest UK property deals ever, has just paid £1.7 billion for it. But the riverside walk outside is clearly part of the capital’s public realm. Not only is it the public point of access to the Mayor and the GLA’s HQ, it is also part of the Thames Path National Trail, managed jointly by Natural England, the Environment Agency and Tourism South East. And yet none of these institutions appears able to prevent the powers that be in Kuwait City from determining what the citizens of London can or can’t do in the public areas of their own city.

Only a week before, the Southbank Centre apologised publicly after temporary security guards attempted to prevent photographer Marc Vallée from taking pictures in the open space around the undercroft skateboarding area. News clearly travels slowly down the river, but this has happened outside City Hall before, and it is high time that the GLA and Mayor Johnson took control of their own doorstep. If they can’t even manage that, what are they good for?

The London Photographers Branch demands that the Mayor and the GLA put an immediate stop to this interference with the right of both journalists and the general public to report and photograph freely in the public realm around the seat of London government.


December Branch Meeting & Party

9th December, 2013


6.00pm Tuesday 17 December, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

The next branch meeting is on Tuesday 17 December and will consist of a short session of essential branch business, followed by an end-of-year slide show and a party that will start in Headland House and continue in the pub.

Send in your best shots for the end-of-year slide show
In the new year we will be launching a Pictures of the Month feature on our website. To kick it off we’re putting together a slide show of members’ favourite shots from the past year, to be shown first at the party, and then posted online.  Send in your photos now!

To enter, you must be an NUJ member. Images should be resized to 1000 pixels on the longest side and carry a watermark with your copyright details, as in the photo above. Each member can send in up to six pictures, emailed to by midnight on Saturday 14 December.

An invitation to new members
Branch membership has increased by 63 in the 11 months to the end of November, and we would like to extend a special invitation to our end-of-year party to all those who have joined in 2013 – it’s a great opportunity to meet and chat more informally with other members.

Facebook event:


Victory by Twitter!

4th December, 2013

Following our report earlier today, the Southbank Centre has tweeted:

“Visitors are welcome to take photos on site. Our temp security guards did not understand this. Apologies for any inconvenience”

The centre’s quick response is very welcome, and a sign that all the campaigning for the freedom to photograph in public spaces has made an impact, albeit one that needs reinforcing from time to time.