Stock photo library Alamy is set to remove thousands of images from its database after the National Trust complained they breached its policy on picture use.

PAGE 1: Thousands of images to be pulled

Stock photo library Alamy is set to remove thousands of images from its database after the National Trust complained they breached its policy on picture use.

NEWS UPDATE 2 JULY 2009

Under strict rules, the National Trust bans the commercial use of photographs taken at its properties.

The National Trust sent Alamy bosses a list of 10,000 pictures that the Trust believes may have breached this policy.

‘The National Trust came to us and said ”we have an issue”,’ said Alamy’s head of content Alan Capel.

Though Alamy has yet to remove any of the pictures concerned, it has pledged to take down any images from its website over which the National Trust is deemed to have a ‘legitimate complaint’.

However, Amateur Photographer (AP) understands that many of the photos will escape the crackdown as they were captured from a public highway, outside National Trust property boundaries.

Alamy has asked its photographers to review the images in question but says it does not expect to remove all 10,000 pictures on the list.

‘If the picture was taken from a public highway, including a public footpath, that’s absolutely fine and we want those pictures to stay on Alamy,’ Capel told AP.

Photographer’s anger at rights move

Capel said some photographers are uncertain whether they captured their pictures inside, or outside, the property boundary, prompting Alamy to seek clarification from the National Trust.

Photographer and AP contributor Paul Felix is among those angered by the move. ‘The National Trust are being rather heavy-handed,’ said Felix who is reviewing 200 of his images.

He told us that his early morning pictures of Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, for example, were captured from a public footpath.

‘What worries me is that, if the National Trust get away with it this time, they will bring in other restrictions saying you can’t photograph parts of the Cornish coastline,’ added Felix.

The National Trust’s rules (pictured on page 2) are set out on the website of the National Trust Photo Library (NTPL), a body that sells images taken by the Trust’s own photographers.

They state: ‘Images taken at National Trust properties may not be submitted to photo libraries, agencies or on-line providers or provided directly to image buyers.’

We are not ‘badgering’ Alamy

However, Chris Lacey, photographic manager at the NTPL stressed that it was not ‘badgering’ Alamy to remove the images.

‘Hopefully, photographers will understand the reasons behind it’, he told AP. ‘It is a matter of protecting the brand of the National Trust, if nothing else, and images of National Trust property taken at that property.’

Lacey added: ‘Alamy could possibly license them to sell a product that the National Trust might not want to be associated with and that’s one of the reasons why we have worked with Alamy to limit the images.’

PAGE 2: Alamy: We want to be ‘fair’ to photographers

The Trust admits it has no power to control the use of images shot from a public area, or pictures of its properties captured from the air.

Meanwhile, Capel defended Alamy’s decision to comply with the National Trust’s requests but added: ‘We want to be fair to photographers. We don’t gain anything by taking a picture off our website? we don’t want to be seen to be restraining anybody’s ability to sell their pictures?’

At the same time, he said, Alamy wants to avoid being ‘tangled-up’ in contravention of an organisation’s photographic policy.

He added: ‘We have an agreement with our photographers and we expect them to abide by it, and most of the time they do.’

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National Trust rules