PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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JJOHNSON
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PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by JJOHNSON »

Hello

Please help if you can

I received a letter from Picrights demanding moneys for copyright infringement. They state that I used an image on my website for month. They demanded £465. The person didnt sound genuine on the phone and after reading comments online about Picrights I dismissed it. They have now sent a 2nd letter demanding £1285. I contacted them explaining that I am not an organisation which they thought i was and that I work through employment agencies on my own. I am furloughed and not worked since March. Ive also had a stroke to top it off.
Ive managed to do some research and found the image that they say is infringed has 2 people (photographers) claiming ownership. Ive found the same image with 2 different photographers laying claim to it. One is Ben Birchall and the other Matt Cardy. One is represented from PA Images and the other through Getty Images. So I don't know what's happening.

Answers required:

1. Is Picrights genuine.
2. So is Picrights wrong in not knowing who owns the image themselves and falsely claiming monies by not have the correct facts on ownership.
3. What are my options

Thank you
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AndyJ
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi JJOHNSON,

Yes, PicRights is a genuine claims management company, although their main aim is extract as much money from alleged infringers as they think they can get away with, and they rely on people being scared by their tactics. Because they keep a percentage of everything they recover, and still need to make enough money for the photographers they represent, their claims rarely reflect anything like the market rate.

They may not be aware that copyright in this particular image is being claimed by two separate photographers. They should have informed you which photographer they represent. Clearly if there is genuine doubt about the correct copyright owner, they need to provide substantive proof that the person they represent is the owner of copyright before anything is settled.

As for how to arrange a fair settlement once you are satisfied that their claim has a genuine basis, please take a look at a couple of other threads on these forums: here and here (the second on deals with claims by Pixsy, which operates in the same way as PicRights, and the principles for dealing with such claims are the same no matter which organisation is behind them).
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
rg67
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

Hi All, new member just joined, have similar issue with picrights but this site wont let me start new post etc so hope you dont mind me tacking on to this one.
Had an email from PicRights monday evening 26th Oct 2020 saying i used an image on my company website with a license, image is licensed through Reuters and costs £121 approx inc VAT, i set up the website 6 years ago and not knowing any different used various images from the internet, didnt realise I had to get license. Anyway they say the image (picture of a victorian row of houses) is being used illegaly, i immediately had the site removed/deleted within 30 mins of seeing the email, ive never actually used the site and had forgotten all about it, I sent them an email telling them ive taken the site down and offered to pay £225.00 (i panicked and admitted liabilty) I called them this morning as had no reply from them and they said the price I need to pay was £1280.00 to cover the five years of use I had it on my site, I explained I hadnt work since MArch due to Covid and they reduced amount by 35% but to be paid by 11th November or it would go back to £1280.00, any advice would be appreciated, im concerned if I dont pay il end up in court with there solictors costs etc, ive also paid today to have an I.T guy remove all the pictures from Google Images so I know this may take a while to happen but the website is dead, im worried i may get more of these demands for other pictures, sorry for rambling on TIA
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AndyJ
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi rg67,

First of all, in the immortal words of Corporal Jones, don't panic. If the normal licence fee for this image is £121 +VAT (ie £145.20) per year and you did in fact have it on your site for 5 years as they allege, the damages they are entitled to claim would be 5 x £145.20 = £726. Their original figure of £1280 is way over the actual amount of damages to which the copyright owner would be entitled. However, if you assume a court might allow an 10% uplift to the £726 for their administrative costs, taking the amount of damages to around £800, their offer of a reduction by 35% (ie £832) sounds more realistic.

However, I can't help feeling the £121 +VAT figure sounds remarkably expensive for a stock image of a terrace of houses. Are you sure that this fee was correct for the sort of use in which the image was being used (ie internet display, not editorial)? Obviously if there was something unique about the photograph, that might account for the high fee, but I would have expected the fee for a run of the mill image to be more in the tens of pounds per year. The fact that this is a Reuters image may account for the inflated price. Being a news agency, they mainly deal in newsworthy images which would normally be aimed at the editorial market. Unfortunately they don't display their fees on the open part of their website and so it is difficult to verify if this is a typical fee. I suggest you try using TinEye or google Image Search to see if the same image is available through a mainstream picture agency such as Getty. This may provide an alternative fee structure based on a commercial usage.

It then becomes a matter for your judgment. Sadly the fact that you used this image without knowing about the copyright does not absolve you from liability, and as you have already admitted this, you have less room for manoeuvre in negotiating a settlement, so the offer of a 35% reduction may sound appealing. Only you can make that call, I'm afraid. If this matter went to court (and I don't think there's much chance that it will) you are unlikely to face picking up their legal costs as the appropriate process for a claim of this size would be the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), which doesn't normally award legal costs against a losing party. At most you might incur some court costs (the fee for lodging the claim and the hearing fee, and the claimant's travel expenses) on top of the damages outlined above, well under £1000 in total.
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rg67
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

Thanks so much for your quick reply I’ve been so worried about this, haven’t slept or eat for two days, frightened I’d end up loosing my house etc, I’ve been on the Reuter’s site and all images similar to the ones I used are priced the same, I work for myself in property maintenance so the pictures on my site are all bathrooms kitchens houses etc, Reuters fees for these images are all £108 ish plus VAT but from what you’ve said the 35% reduction brings it down to what I’d have to pay anyway but thanks again you’ve put my at ease a little hopefully sleep tonight thanks much appreciated
rg67
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

I had a quick look on Getty images and a similar picture is £375 For a large picture going down to £50 for small not sure if that’s a one off payment or for a year so I hope I don’t get any charges relating to Getty
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

AndyJ, thanks for your replies, i would like to ask the following if ok, should I refuse to pay picrights and tell them to take me to court, once theyve passed issue on to legal department or solicitors etc, can the solicitors add costs for writing to me etc to the claim ie, could they take me to court and say they want additional £500 for the costs to write to me etc, what if after receiving the first letter from a solicitor I wrote back and asked not to be contacted again until a court date was set as I didnt want to incur additional costs for correspondence etc and i stated that i would not pay until a court ordered me to, thanks again in advance
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AndyJ
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi rg 67,

If they engage solicitors they will undoubtedly add these legal costs onto whatever they demand from you. However their ultimate course of action is to sue in the courts and for this sort of claim that would mean the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). The rules of this particular courts mean that, ordinarily, legal costs are not awarded against a defendant. This is in the interests of keeping the system simple and streamlined (and as far as possible, keeping professional lawyers out of the system!). In addition to any damages, the most you will be required to pay is the claim fee (between £35 - 50 depending on amount claimed) and if it goes to a hearing in open court, a hearing fee (£25 - 50), plus the travel expenses of the copyright owner to attend court (but not his legal team). Here's a full guide to the procedure.

So you need to bear this in mind when negotiating a settlement: it is not in PicRights' interests for this to go to court. It delays the final settlement, adds further uncertainty and adds costs for them which they can't recover.

Make sure when dealing with them that they know that you know all this! It may prevent a lot more bluff and obfuscation, and ultimately lead to a fair settlement.
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
rg67
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

Thanks again for coming back to me, I’ve asked a solicitor to spend an hour looking into this for me but his first thought was tell them to jog on il update once I’ve had a reply from him thanks again for your help
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by rg67 »

Also Reuter’s told me the fee for the picture would be 975 per year for commercial use of 5000 for life
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