Photo used by local paper without permission

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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TARAWELSH
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Photo used by local paper without permission

Post by TARAWELSH » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:25 pm

My local paper have used one of my football photos without permission. I have sent them an invoice and they wont pay up. Where do i stand?
They basically said "Sorry to hear youre upset the club gave us permission so you will have to take it up with them"

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:42 pm

Hi tarawelch,

I think the first thing to establish is whether you gave the football club permission to use your photograph. If you didn't then it is a straightforward case of infringement by the newspaper. I'll return to that in a moment.

However if you did allow the football club to use your photograph, I assume this was for publicity purposes, perhaps to go in a fan magazine or something similar. If that is the case, it may be that the club took this as an implied licence for them to submit it to the newspaper. Much will depend on what if anything was discussed at the time you handed over the image and whether you made any stipulation about the wider use of the image. Because that is such a grey area, I won't go into more detail about that until you come back, if you wish to, with more details.

So returning to the situation where you didn't give the club permission to use the photograph, clearly they weren't in a position to authorise the paper to use it and so they drop out of the equation entirely. Newspapers can be remarkably disingenuous when dealing with situations like this. They know the law on copyright and rather hope that you don't, so you will be fobbed off with their excuse. They will know that unless you assigned copyright (which has to be in writing) to the club, it is most unlikely that the club was authorised to give permission to them. Copyright infringement is a matter of strict liability, which means that whatever they (the paper) may have 'thought' they are still liable for primary infringement by using the image without your permission. If this wasn't the case, they might just as well have phoned up your neighbour or someone you went to school with to ask if it was OK. I suggest that if this newspaper is owned by one of the larger groups such as Archant or Johnston Press, you contact their legal department directly as they are more likely to accept that you know what you are talking about when it comes to the law. But you will need to be very stubborn. Even the legal department will try to argue that black is white, so you need to stick to your guns. If you wanted to take the matter to court (remember that I am here only talking about the situation where you did not give the football club permission to use your photograph) then you have a strong case and their continuing to deny liability will possibly be grounds for asking for aggravated damages on the grounds of flagrancy. This could more than double any award of damages you might receive. The newspaper almost certainly won't want the matter to go to court, and so they will ultimately have to settle, if they know you are going to keep pursuing the matter. You could also take up the matter with the reader's editor if the paper has such a person. This is about as close as you will get to an independent arbitrator who can assist you. Since there is nothing in the Editor's Code on this, the Independent Press Standards Organisation won't be able to deal with the matter. You could also contact Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK) and the British Journal Of Photyography (BJP) both of whom take a keen interest in this sort of abuse of photographer's rights, and may help to campaign on your behalf. For some more background on this see this article: EPUK

Make sure you do a Google image search to discover if your image is being used anywhere else, by the same company, say in an online edition, or if the football club has a large following the newspaper may have syndicated the story and your image to other papers. If they have, your fee needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Don't forget to come back if you did give the club permission to use the image, and tell us under what terms you understood your image would be used by the club, and perhaps we can provide more advice on where that would leave you in relation to the newspaper.
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

Lumberjack
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Post by Lumberjack » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:12 pm

If it were me, I would just forget it! This has hapenned to me loads of times, but I have no great faith that I would win a court battle with a newspaper, and would most likely lose, getting saddled with vast expenses, and an awful lot of stress that would probably drag on for months!
Really, not worth the hassle.
Would be intersted to hear what happens if you do decide to pursue it though!
Al

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Post by Nick Cooper » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:56 am

Lumberjack wrote:If it were me, I would just forget it! This has hapenned to me loads of times, but I have no great faith that I would win a court battle with a newspaper, and would most likely lose, getting saddled with vast expenses, and an awful lot of stress that would probably drag on for months!
Really, not worth the hassle.
Would be intersted to hear what happens if you do decide to pursue it though!
Except that - as Andy points out - in most situations the newspaper's legal advisors would know that they didn't have a leg to stand on, and so would settle as early as possible.

Lumberjack
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Post by Lumberjack » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:54 am

I still wouldn't risk it, they would probably drag it out for ages. I will be interested to see what happens though, if it is pursued!
Al

Nick Cooper
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Post by Nick Cooper » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:50 pm

These days, though, the Small Claims Track is a) quick, and b) cheap.

I do think, though, that this sorty of thing is worth pursuing on principle, simply because the press - whether at a local or a national level - do this sort of thing all the time, particularly with photographs culled from social media. Often they will improperly label such images as "© Facebook" (or whatever), but I have seen images taken by photographers I know pesonally claimed as being copyright to the news service which lifted them in the first place!

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