An amusing example of bureaucratic hubris has reached me. A post here on the fotoLibra blog — a commercial picture library — reveals an email from English Heritage, claiming copyright on all images ever made of Stonehenge.
We are sending you an email regarding images of Stonehenge in your fotoLibra website. Please be aware that any images of Stonehenge can not be used for any commercial interest, all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.
Legally it’s nonsense, of course. The copyright in images resides always with the photographer, not the ‘owner’ of the site, unless those rights are explicitly transferred. Just owning something that people photograph gives you no rights (British Library take note please).
But it does show the attitude — it’s all about exploitation, as much as can be achieved. Not a very good sign, for a world heritage site whose every penny comes from public funds.
For those unfamiliar with it, English Heritage is a quango — an organisation set up and funded by the UK government, but with establishment appointees who are then allowed to run it as they please without government interference.
UPDATE: I have just had to delete an abusive comment on this post. I can only suppose from its content is by an EH employee; because I can’t imagine anyone else would care enough about EH to insult me over this. Nasty people, if so.