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Hi, Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have expertise in copyright law. Can you post your question here? Kind regards AJ
I have discovered that some of my art (at least 23 images) has been ripped from the internet and is being used by a company who prints art on stretch ceilings. They have watermarked my images with their own watermark despite the fact that they never consulted me or had my permission to use these images in any way at all. This is an international company and mine is not the only art they have obviously lifted from the internet without permission. I would like to know if there is anything I can do about it. I have contacted them twice and asked them to remove the art, but I have had no response whatsoever.
Hi, Thank you. Is this company based in England? Do you know how much they sell your prints for?
Hi AJ... I am not sure where the head office is but there is an office in England. I have contacted them there and via their Estonia office. I have no idea how much they sell them for - they obviously let their customers select the art they want printed onto these stretch ceilings that they provide.
They aren't selling them as prints - they are printing them directly onto the ceilings - or at least, they are giving people the option to have them printed if they choose.
Hi, Thank you. Under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988 - you are the creator of this work and therefore own the copyright in it.
I have informed them of that.
If they use it for commercial use without your permission this is infringement and you can sue them for an account of profit.
What I suggest you do is the following:
1. Get a friend to make a dummy inquiry and ask for a quote to print one of your works on to a wall. Do this anonymously.
You will then have evidence they are actually selling the work;
2. Go to Companies House - and find out if this company has a registered place of business here - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house#
If they have been ignoring you, then this letter really must come from a solicitor.
Would you be happy for them to use your work under a paid licence?Kind regards AJ
I would be more than happy for them to let them use it under a paid licence.
Once the solicitor has issued the cease and desist letter you can send a letter on a "without prejudice" basis and make an offer. You would have to come up with a figure that you deem acceptable though?
S.17 of Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988 is the relevant legislation in relation to copyright infringement.
Does this only apply if the company is in the UK?
Hi, Thank you. If the company is trading in the UK and has an office here, then you can sue them here as well. If you obtain an injunction then that can apply worldwide but you would need to go and enforce this in Estonia as well.
In all likelihood if they thing you cannot be bullied and you can agree a licence then you wont need to go and take enforcement in Estonia.
Oh dear. I can't afford to do that and I suppose that is why they rip our art so much!
So I need to see a solicitor and at least try that.
As a side point I would note that Estonia has a stable legal system (and cheaper than the UK) - so enforcement action would not be impossible.
That's good to know.
I think it is very important to get a cease and desist letter out from a UK solicitor - it will set a precedent that you are prepared to enforce your copyright and therefore in future other companies may be less inclined to infringe and instead approach for permission first.
What is really wrong about this as well is that they are not crediting you for the work. Kind regards AJ
Can I assist any further?
This is the third time I have found my art on a company website in the past 4 weeks - this one is the worst case though. Thank you for your help - I really appreciate it.
No problem - please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist any further.