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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50160
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Claim infringment

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Hello, I am having the same problem as the person advised pertaining to copyright issue of a photograph on the internet, link I have removed the image on the day we received a letter claiming copyright infringement despite this they are still trying to extort money from me. Note the picture is available off google images and is on the bbc website, in 2 articles. Kind Regards

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How much are they asking for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

in excess of £1000 plus costs or 50% to settle now. This is extortionate, I wasn't selling it or using it to sell a service, it was just a blog article. I have no advertising on my website. I found the image on Google, among a variety of similar images and the image in question is on 2 BBC news articles. The claimant has this image on their website but doesn't sell anything, I don't even know if it is theirs.

Thank you for your help.

These companies are notorious for the aggressive way they pursue people who use their images in what they believe is without their permission. Often the sums they request are exaggerated and in the hope that people will just pay up in order to avoid further threats or possible legal action. However, in reality the law on copyright infringement is not that simple and the way damages are calculated is different.
The first step is to establish whether you had the right to use the photo in question. It would depend on what licences were assigned for its use and who they had given permission to. If you were told by the party who had permission to use it that you were also allowed to use it and you did so in good faith then you will have a partial defence in a sense that any reasonable person in your position may not have been able to take further steps to establish whether they were breaching copyright.
Also if you had immediately removed the infringing photo, it is unlikely they can just go on and pursue the amount in question and they would be limited in seeking is damages suffered as a result of your initial use, which would generally be limited to the licence fee you would have paid had you sought permission directly from them to use the image. These would not be much more than £100.
You can challenge the company to prove exactly what losses they have suffered as a result of this infringement and to provide proof of these, stating clearly that you will not simply be bullied into paying what is clearly an extortionate amount that is completely unjustified. Also remind them that a court ill only award actual damages incurred as a result of this, usually limited to the licence fee one would have paid for the photo and unless it was some exclusive photo that would attract higher fees, nominal damages are likely to be awarded.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much for your time again.

I have been doing a little research into copyright law, to give you a bit of context the photo in question is of a public government building and the blog article was related to current news events. From what I can gather there are fair use exceptions to copyright law. Please forgive me I am not a lawyer this is just what I have found and maybe you can clear this up for me.

Firstly there is no copyright ownership within the meta details of the image so it did not show up on the google search, I have a screen shot.

The other thing I looked at the copyright law and looked under exceptions for fair use which says there is an exception for fair use if you are reporting on current events, except photos unless it is credited to the owner (section 30); ok fair enough but I didn't know who took the photo so couldn't; there is no information pertaining to such a fact, no watermark, no copyright info in alt tag, it's on their website but that isn't proof and as I said it's on the BBC website.

That isn't all though, I looked a little further and it goes on to say there is a further exception if the photograph is of a public building, which it was, it was a council building. This is found in section 62 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 ( ) I am no expert but based in this stuff is there a claim?

Her is a bunch of more info I looked at Fair dealing under copyright law in the UK &,_Designs_and_Patents_Act_1988#Fair_dealing_defences_and_permitted_acts The bit that says that photos of a public building is also an exception to copyright law

If the claimant didn't want it to be reused he could have put a watermark, added copyright info in the alt tag of the picture, it's the bit that tells google and other search engines what the picture is and he could have used a robot.txt which stops google sharing stuff you don't want put out into the public domain.

A search online shows that this person has a habit of doing this to people.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated, thank you for your time.

Hello again, it is not necessary for the photo to have included any claims of ownership – copyright is automatically granted to the creator of the work and there is no need to have it registered anywhere or displayed. You sometimes see the © symbol displayed on images but that is not legally required to protect the image under copyright.
The fair usage argument could be something you raise but it is not as simple as just stating it is for news reporting and that you credited the author. It would still matter what the purpose of the use was, whether it was commercial or non-commercial, whether you made money out of it for example.
Section 62 would not apply here. It would be relevant if you had taken a photo of a copyrighted item or made a sketch, etc – the issue here is that someone had already taken the photo and you have directly used it. Had you perhaps made a drawing of the photo or taking another photo which contained the photo in it, then that would apply but you directly used the photo that someone else took.
So all the other links you mentioned about public buildings are there to prevent the copyright owners of the work being photographed to claim copyright infringement – the issue is not the same here. These would be relevant to the person who took the photo – they may not be pursued by the copyright owners of the work he photographed, however he has still created a piece protected by copyright by taking the photo, so the photo itself would still give him copyright rights over it.
Anyhow, as mentioned he cannot just claim the fees sought and he still has a lot to prove before he can do that. He may not even take it to court and if he does it would be for him to prove that he has suffered all the losses he is trying to claim.
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