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How many times have you entered yourself into a competition which requires a Selfie doing something specific to be eligible? Usually this very innocent with the Competition Host (brand owner) asking to to do something fun or special showcasing their product.

Recently in the UK with travel company Thomson, this competition was no different. In fact, it was lovely. All contestants need do was send in a photo that made them smile. Five lucky winners would then receive a £2,000 holiday voucher.

A winning entrant was from David Bellis with his three year old son Jacob. They posed with a horse in the background. How sweet. They were standing on public land and the horse was on private property. When details of the competition were published, the owner of the horse in the photo (called Betty – the horse that it), the owner claimed they never gave consent for Betty’s image to be taken and wanted a some of the winnings for themselves. She even threatened that David and Jacob be removed as winners of the competition.

So what are the rules for copyright ownership in a situation like this in Australia?

In the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Betty’s owner can not claim ownership of the photo. This is because the photographer – in this case David – owns the photo and may use it for their own discretion.

So here in Australia, is this a privacy issue? According to the Arts Law Centre of Australia, taking a photo from a public place has no restriction on taking photographs of people on private property. Precedence law (Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor (1937)) details that if you can be seen then you can be photographed. So if people who are photographed on their property from a public location have no legal claim against you if what is captured in the photograph can be seen from the street, then could we be a little assumptive that this also applies for our animals?

An interesting situation to consider when you are photographing and posting your life online.

Untapped Agency is a Licensing Agent for Brand Owners, Licensees, Manufacturers and Retailers. We extend iconic brands, copyright, music, designs and trademarks into innovative, new consumer products, services and promotions.