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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12081
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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In Aug 2008 my partner approached by a local photographer for

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In Aug 2008 my partner approached by a local photographer for permission to take digital images of our recently opened establishment (atmospheric & detail shots, of customers & our staff working). She said yes, then on seeing the results, & believing we'd use a few of them at some point on our website (yet to be designed & launched) we were given a disc of copies, for which we paid £350. He later asked my partner to sign a contract limiting use to 2 years, which she declined.
He came back 6yrs later, in Nov 2014, demanding £2,000 for abuse of copyright - we used 22 images on our site, & one on a giveaway postcard (all of which were mistakenly credited to another photographer - we did commission several others in the interim).
I emailed on 12th Dec, saying I'd try & resolve, but first had to clarify the facts first, & not until our busy period subsided.
He has now threatened court action in the next few days.
I believe he is being unreasonable, as we would not have employed a photographer to take images, & be tied to a short period of use, having paid a relatively high fee.
Am I right in thinking that the next stage would be a "cease & desist" order from a solicitor, & does he have the right to be heavy-handed after such a time lag?
Thank you for your question.
Did he agree to let you use the images without limit of time when he gave you the disk?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


He accepted payment, then presented the copyright material license to be signed. As I was in need of all the facts, I asked for a copy of the signed document, to which he said a signature wasn't essential - he still had copyright.

He has emailed a "copy" which states acknowledgement of receipt of £350, but no signature (just a scribbled note "reference copy, 10/11/14").

We are pretty sure that there wasn't a verbal request, as we would not have agreed - particularly as we hadn't begun any PR work, of even a blog at that time.

His invoice, dated 10/11/14 demands £1970 within a month, & to remove all works.

My opinion is that by accepting payment in return for the disk he granted you a licence to use the images. He retained the copyright and he granted you a licence to use the images, without limit of time unless a time period was agreed.
As you have since taken other pictures I presume you are happy enought to stop using his. Just tell him you will do so at his request but that no further payment is due by you for the reasons I have stated.
A cease and desist letter would typically be issued before court proceedings were contemplated. Do not let this person intimidate you. There is no abuse of copyright from the information you have given.
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