US Patent Awarded to Amazon on Studio Photography

0 has just gained the ability to sue photographers who use a white background to capture a product photo with this patent award from the US Patent Office (USPO) which means they can technically ask for licensing fees if you ever thought otherwise.

Yes, you heard me. White background. Here is an except of the Patent text filed:-
a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6...

Amazon is an online retailer and for that, most if not all of the photos captured for use on their site has a white background. D'uh. Apparently the text also mentions the use of a 85mm lens so if you happen to get sued, all you gotta do is prove that you used a 75mm or a 90mm lens to shoot your object and you're home free.....provided you hired a lawyer to defend yourself which can run into thousands of dollars.

First, let's be clear. This patent is not an innovation. The patent was filed by Amazon in 2010 and granted this year.  For me at least, the idea of such a photographic exercise is really to fight other online retailers who would use a picture of a product shot with a white background. This gentle art of arm wrestling your competitor to the ground with a lawsuit is one of the best ways to perform a take down without using too much effort. Smaller online retailers who cannot fight Amazon's lawyers will have to move on. The very act of hiring a lawyer to defend yourself in corporate America is a dangerous proposition as it cost a lot of money.

This patent can be used only for sites hosted in America. Amazon in this case can't use it against say, China's Taobao or any online property hosted outside of the US.

Photographers probably need not be too worried but you should tell your client that you won't be using a 85mm lens to shoot a product. Instead, why not try using an iPhone? With the right lighting and a portable lighting studio like the Foldio, you can add a watermark that says "shot on an iPhone with Foldio", to deter the legal sharks from Amazon.

What's my Take on the Picture?
What this will eventually mean is that the professional photographer will be obsolete. The only reason why clients would want to use you for a studio shoot is that the object in question is so damn large that it will need a whole room with lighting just to ensure that it is properly lit. That said, you could soon be mothballing your DSLR until your client shows up at your doorstep with a product so large that it can't be shot with an iPhone.