Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. Was the issue of copyright ever discussed verbally?
What do you mean by the 'implication', was that ever raised in any sense or was it just an unspoken assumption?
As far as the law on copyright of images is concerned, the starting point is that the person who took the image would automatically be the copyright owner. This would mean that the photographer who took the image would own its copyright. Saying that, the copyright could be assigned or transferred to another party in one of few ways.
First of all this could happen under a specific agreement between the parties where the original copyright owner agrees to transfer or assign their copyright to the other party. This could be done in writing (preferable as then there is documentary evidence) or via a specific verbal agreement. The fact that you were paid to supply the photos to this client and allowed them to use these does not mean you transferred copyright to them, it just means that you allowed them to use these, in effect you gave them a licence to use the photos over which you had automatic copyright having been the person who created them.
Another option to transfer the copyright is in employment relationships where someone creates copyrighted material as part of their work for someone. In these cases your employment status would be important. If you were an employee working under a contract of service then the copyright of works created in the course of your employment will automatically belong to the employer. However, if you were not an employee and were self employed, a contractor or consultant, then you retain the copyright even if the work was done in the course of work you did for another party. This was confirmed in the case of Robin Ray v Classic FM.
So in the circumstances it is more likely than not that you would have retained the copyright of your images.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow should they decide to withhold payment for work done as a result of this, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Thank you. If they decide to withhold payment because you cannot resolve the issue of copyright, you can consider pursuing them for what you are owed as their liability to pay you does not depend on the issue of copyright.
Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. Before you consider starting legal action you may wish to consider sending a formal statutory demand. This is a legal request which asks the debtor to pay the outstanding debt within 21 days and failure to do so will allow you to bankrupt the debtor (if they are an individual ) or wind up the company (if they are a business). For the relevant forms to serve a statutory demand see here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-demands/forms-to-issue-a-statutory-demand
4. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.