Can a photographer own the rights in a scene?

Can a photographer own the rights to a photo so that no one else can take a photo of the same scene and use it for financial gain?

I took a photo of a house that was the childhood home of a now, famous person. I had it printed on mugs and other items and have been selliing it in a local gift shop. I was recently confronted with the idea that what I was doing was illegal because the other photographer that took a picture of that same house had had his certified and was the only one that could use it for profit. Is there any truth to this idea?

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Alasdair Taylor's Answer

This looks like a decent summary of the legal position here:

Perhaps the key issue is whether, when you were taking the photograph, you were subject to access licence restrictions.

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