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Copyright issue, please advise

 
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Mercey
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Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:18 am    Post subject: Copyright issue, please advise Reply with quote

I have come across your site after a google search.
I am a photographer based in plymouth devon. I recently was contracted by PWA a local wrestling company to do photo's of a show they were preforming.
All photos are to be used by PWA only.
Just recently I discovered one of the photo's has been lifted off a website and used without permission for another companies poster.
I emailed a formal complaint to get a rude reply of, You don't own nothing, you don't know what your talking about and a load of other abuse about how the person in the photo owns his likeness not me, How I know nothing about the business etc.
I have kept all PM's and dates and kept my replies simple, polite to the point, but am getting no were.
They have since printed out the posters and are using my work without permission.
I am wondering were I stand legally in regards to this? I can give more info if needed, and or share the PM's.
thanks in advance
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AndyJ
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Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1573

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mercey,
You are the owner of copyright in the images you took, unless there was an agreement with the PWA when they commissioned you that you would assign copyright to them. I assume from what you have written that this was not the case, and that PWA only have a licence to use your images.
So the other company, despite their bluster, are entirely in the wrong. And of course this has nothing to do with the likeness of the person(s) who are featured in the photographs. There is no legal protection in the UK for a person's likeness in circumstances such as a public wrestling match.
However as your first approach to this company has been re-buffed, the next step will need careful consideration because it could involve expense. I assume that your aim is mainly to get the posters withdrawn, rather for any financial remedy, although of course you are perfectly entitled to ask for both.
The next step should really be a 'letter before action'. This is a specific step in the litigation chain which effectively ups the stakes for the infringer. However letters before action need to be drafted carefully so that they do not contain threatening language which could damage your case. So the tone needs to be matter-of-fact, setting out the facts as you see them, that you own the copyright in the image(s), that you have not given permission for Company X to use your image and that their use of the image constitutes infringement contrary to section 16 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. You should state that you require them to immediately withdraw and destroy any posters etc which use the images and to undertake not use the images in future unless they have obtained a licence from you for the specific purpose. The final sentence can be along the lines that you reserve the right to take such further legal steps as may be necessary to secure your rights if Company X fail to take the action you have requested. You may also advise them to seek legal advice if they are in any doubt as to their position.
Of course this would have more effect if it came from a solicitor but you might have to pay over a hundred pounds for that, so it is perhaps not something you want to contemplate at this stage.
It might also be worth contacting the PWA if you have not already done so, since they have an interest in this. Assuming you did not issue them (the PWA) with an exclusive licence to use your images, they can't bring a legal action against Compnay X on their own behalf, but a letter from them (or better still, their solicitors) might have more impact on Company X.
And speaking of licences, if you didn't agree an exclusive licence with the PWA, then you could potentially offer Company X a licence for an appropriate fee, so that they don't have the expense of destroying the original posters and reprinting new ones. If you go down this route, the letter before action would need to be amended to say that the company can purchase a retrospective licence to use the images as an aternative to removing and destroying the posters. If they take up this offer, you can invoice them in the normal way, and if they fail to pay, it then becomes a simple small claims issue to sort out.
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Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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Mercey
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have decided to publish some of the emails,
I emailed the company a formal complaints, but no reply,
I have removed names for privacy reasons, but the these emails came from the person who stole my work

So gOt home to hear that basically you wan money for using a pic of Dom on our poster... Because you took the picture? First off that's not going to happen, you don't own anything I haven't used you background you made which was the only bit you 'owned' Dom owns his likeness not you or anyone else, we are not using anything you made if I take a picture of someone I don't own the picture without a signed contract which also means I could simply kick off about all the pictures you took of me at pwa without my permission, it's not coming down and your certainly not getting paid. You have been in the business 5 mins and already clearly don't know what you are doing.al so

4:21pm
D F
Also making it public is so unprofessional, I never ever get annoyed by people in this business buyou trying to make a quick quid but dragging our name through the dirt is ridiculous and if you want to get daft about it I will charge for every image you uploaded of me.... Against my permission.

5:13pm
A S
Actually I have been in the business a few years!!
(I entered a copyright law link here)
Under law, it is the photographer who will own copyright on any photos he/she has taken, with the following exceptions:
If the photographer is an employee of the company the photos are taken for, or is an employee of a company instructed to take the photos, the photographer will be acting on behalf of his/her employer, and the company the photographer works for will own the copyright.
If there is an agreement that assigns copyright to another party.
In all other cases, the photographer will retain the copyright, if the photographer has been paid for his work, the payment will be for the photographer’s time and typically an allocated number of prints. The copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer, and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright.

P-16: Photography and copyright
copyrightservice
Exploring copyright in photography, the rights of photographers, registration advice and specific considerations that apply to photographs.

5:14pm
A S
PS I have a written contract between J H and I in regards to photo's of the PWA event

6:11pm
D F
The business of wrestling, not photography and I didn't use your pic,I used a picture of do, edited there's nothing going to happen here, it's not coming. Down and your sure as hell not getting a penny. And your contract means nothing pwa isn't atax paying company it's like a band choosing a name and saying their a company it is I
Legal, your dont know what your talkin abOut. And. Personally have signed nothing to pwa to state they can photograph my likeness, even if idid it wouldn't count
Fr anything as legally pwa doesn't exist. Can argUe about t
Is all day long however this poster s being printed and distributed, there's no 2 ways about it, and Dom hasn't signed anything to pwa either so pwa doesn't
Own his image either, pwa is giving away something that isn't theirs to own in the first place. You can sign whatever contract you lie with pwa ultimately were independent contractors none of which hold any legal rights to pwa so it's all in your imagination.

6:17pm
D F
Live event photography doesn't have the same license as one to one model work if one person in that crowd said they didn't want their photo taken that day you wouldn't have been allowed to work at the event. It wasn't a public meeting. This really is wasting my time, if you have been in business for years you surely have something better to do with your time, I know I do. Like book venues and I don't know... Like actually get some work done. This is the end of it. You can do whatever you like, he'll cour would even be fun but you would be killing pwa for running shows in taxed. Smarten up. You don't know the wrestling business. Put these dumb threats away. Cos right now you jus cost J his champion working for him ever again. Well done.
Sent from Mobile
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mercey.
Not the most coherent piece of English I've seen today, but I suspect a combination of anger and using an phone may well have contributed some of the mangling.
The only thing I take from that is that it appears you have asked for payment for their use of your images. In that case, a letter before action should make it clear which remedy you prefer, but otherwise my previous comments still stand.
I suspect that this person is going to ignore your letter before action. On that basis you may want to consider the next step which would be to commence proceedings for infringement. You need to make sure that in addition to the emails, you keep safe any other documentary evidence, for instance your correspondence with the PWA and if you still have the original images on a memory card, keep the card safe as this will be primary evidence that you took the picture concerned. I know the other person has effectively admitted that he took your image, but it is always worth having your own evidence in case he later denies it. If you shot in RAW format, that is the best evidence as it is difficult to fake RAW files. If you only have jpegs, make sure your make a copy of the specific image containing all the EXIF data as, again, this supports your claim to copyright.
Take a look at this article about how to bring a small claim for copyright infringement: it's releatively simple and cheap to do. Also have a look at this recent case where a photographer handled her own case (although this was not through the small claims route) and won. Having this knowledge behind you will, I hope, give you confidence to take the next step if that becomes necessary. The other party will not react to your letter before action if you give any indication that you are not prepared to take the matter to court.
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Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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