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Anyone photographing subjects against a white backdrop may violate Amazon patent

amazon awarded questionable studio lighting patent 1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Studio photographers may have to think twice when composing their images in the future, thanks to a recently granted Amazon patent that lays claim to a fairly standard photography practice: shooting subjects set against a white backdrop using different lights. Sounds like a technique you’re already using today, doesn’t it?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Amazon with U.S. 8,676,045 – a studio lighting patent – on March 18. The patent is simply titled “Studio Arrangement,” and it details the rudimentary and standard photo practice of shooting objects in front of a clean, white backdrop using a controlled lighting setup.  

Amazon meticulously, and almost comically, lays out the patent’s claims at great length, discussing “a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background…being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama.” That concept should sound familiar to photographers of any skill level.

The claims add that this technique includes an 85mm lens equipped to an “image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6.” It even mentions using an elevated surface “positioned about 21 inches above a floor level” when creating an image. 

Amazon must be aware that the patent describes the precise conditions that allow photographers to better images without post-production, but why would they file such a patent? You’re probably also wondering how anyone could put a patent on such a basic photo technique, but the real questions to consider are why did USPTO award this patent to Amazon, and what does Amazon plan to do with the patent now that they’ve got it?

A move such as this one, which is being called “ridiculous” by photographers around the world, must have been made for a reason. Amazon could start taking legal action against those who violate its patent and make millions off of an idea they didn’t really invent.

Stephen Colbert, who will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show, blasted Amazon on Wednesday and fired back with his hilarious plan to “patent the idea of patenting ideas.” The video can be viewed below. 

We reached out to Amazon for an official comment regarding its “Studio Arrangement” patent. We will update this story with any new information as it becomes available.

(Via Engadget)


Chase Melvin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chase Melvin is a writer and native New Yorker. He graduated from LIU Brooklyn where he spent 3 years as the News and Photo…
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