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The National Trust

Some of you I know, as well as supplying Collections, contribute pictures to certain substantial, rival agencies which shall remain nameless. Three of you have now been in touch about an item which has appeared on the rival’s contributors’ blog regarding pictures of National Trust properties.

The gist of it is, the agency in question is removing any picture taken on NT property regardless of the circumstances in which the picture was obtained and include absolutely anything from a totally anonymous tree to a bunch of snowdrops to the building itself. The fact that the agency in question is apparently marketing the NT library is of course purely coincidental.

Our view is that if you have to buy a ticket to get into the grounds and the ticket clearly states that commercial photography is not allowed, but you take pictures regardless, these pictures remain your property but if you publish them, you could be prosecuted by NT for breach of contract. In order to prosecute you, it will be be necessary for NT to prove that you knew photography was not allowed. Collections has masses of material shot on NT property, most of which was taken long before there were any restrictions and we intend to continue to market this regardless of anything NT may say. The National Trust abides by a policy of cocooning their properties so they never seem to change. A scanned transparency taken in 1980 is quite likely to look the same as it would look today, shot with the latest digital technology.

If you are stopped whilst taking pictures on NT property, just stop. Do not delete images or hand over film. The copyright in what you have taken remains yours whatever NT may suggest.

Interiors are an entirely different matter. Collections understands the need to prevent photography inside properties. Photographers get in the way and tripods are a pest. Leave the interiors to the NT and get outside instead.

If the grounds are free of charge then there is no ticket. Many NT properties are dotted with public footpaths and frequently it is not clear that you are even on NT land. What you do there is entirely up to you. NT officials have no right to prevent you from taking pictures of anything you like from a public right of way.

Remember one simple thing. The NT don’t exactly own their properties. They hold them in trust for the nation. That means you and me!

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