Before people go too crazy though, they might want to read the blog post cited in the story: http://nipclaw.blogspot.com/2012/01/copyright-in-photographs-temple-island.html
This is one judge, in one case.
Note too, that apparently the second photographer was quite candid about having copied the first work. Remember, that at their heart, copyright infringement cases are about the value of an image. In this case, the original image had an established track record of being of commercial value. Bottom line to me: it's probably always a bad idea to copy someone else's idea and try to profit from it.
On the other hand, you can copy Walker Evans' and call it art: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1995.266.2
I did enjoy this line in the barrister's blog regarding another case: The judge dismissed that argument on the ground that it is the person who takes the photo (that is to say, presses the shutter button) who can ordinarily claim to be the author of the work.
Seems we had a whole thread discussing this issue and who knew a court had already made a ruling.
hmmm... This is an interesting case... Being a commercial photographer, I have some rough ideas of what copyright law entail... But there is fine lines everywhere... Like one prior person said, if you copyright landmarks in images, if you look back all the images ever taken of, lets say the washington monument or even the new york skyline or times square... I'm sure you'd find every angle, every time of day, weather, cars, no cars, etc... I would even one up you and say I bet there are at least, lets say a dozen of each that are being used commercially today. (it's a lot more, but just for agruements sake).. If you copyright the idea of monotone with a single color (or full color) selection/item then 90% of wedding photographers would be in copyright violation to each other. Now raise your hands, how many wedding shots have you seen or done of a bride with her flowers and the flowers are the only thing in color? Also what was not clear is the creation of the defendants image... It seems like the judge was saying the defendants work was a compilation of a few different photographs, hence a photoshop creation... am I right in how I interpreted it? The judge did say IF he hired a photographer to shoot an image with the same/similar elements it would be fine... But what if that photo was then monochrome with the bus, whether it be the same or different bus, be in color, does that then cross the lines? To one up the bar a bit, celebrity award shows will be right around the corner and photogs all line up to take photos of them posing as they arrive... almost all those photographers would have the same model, location, angle, etc... every one of those will claim some sort of claim/copyright on those images...
I think what can be taken away of it is if you knowingly and purposely try to recreate a photograph, either dont get caught or try to have enough differences to not confuse the viewer. If the similarity would confuse the viewer enough where they may think its from the same artist, then it may be too close...
But then again, for example, recently I was commissioned to take photos of this beechcraft privet jet that a company is using it for Leasing and Charter services... There were photos from the manufacturer in the original pamphlet but all those images were copyrighted by beechcraft and were not able to be used... If i got and take an interior shot (jets are smallish unlike airliners so there are only so many angles you can take...) If my shot looks similar to it, different views out the windows, and mine is slightly wider and such, screw it, I'm not fretting about that photographer coming after me.
I just feel in this situation with the 2 london shots, the first photographer had a hair up their butt and even the judge mentioned the claimants case was "too high" and demands were too high.