HELP!! Business using multiple photos of mine that I did not consent to

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HELP!! Business using multiple photos of mine that I did not consent to

Post by cwoodier »

Hi Everyone, We are a family who have been renting since 2008. I need some advice on this situation as we are always fair and honest and feel like a mug. The issue is i recently rented a property through an estate agent here in uk with no issues for 2 1/2 years, we paid deposit lived there looked after it but unfortunately we received a call after the contract expired and the owner wants to sell. We have 5 children with constant issues renting and again this time we had no choice but to agree and possibly stay there until sold. So, 3 estate agents were instructed and we felt like we were living in a zoo. One was confirmed and they went through the property taking photos then after a week we received a call saying they were not good enough and wanted to take them all again - house is on 3 floors and we have 5 children 1 with special needs. So, we had absolutely had enough and I suggested that this was unfair so I would take the photos for them on the condition they remove them once we vacated. So I create 20 excellent images and cleared every room made them look really good the agents were surprised and used 17 of them on 2 websites. SO we then found another property and decided to leave and proceeded with the move on the 1st August 2017. We had constant email communication even asking us to stay at a lower rate while they sell the property which we declined. Within the emails I requested the photos to be removed I had no reply on about 4 occasions no acknowledgment. However, one email said they would remove them when the director returns from holiday and takes their own photos. I met him handed over the key went round the property and requested verbally that he removed which he said he would. So, I have email communication the agreement made that they be removed when we vacate also myself requesting they be removed. As of today the photos are still being used.

So as you can imagine 17 images on 2 websites promoting the sale of a property with all our furnishing displayed (looks good) which I did not give consent to.

We vacated on 1st August 2018 and I have been gathering screenshot images date/time from both websites and their business website. The images all 17 have been used now for 5 months 2 weeks without my consent. The property has not been sold and this continues.

I am looking to sue, charging a basic daily fee per image for the timeframe used.

Can anyone advise? Thanks
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Re: HELP!! Business using multiple photos of mine that I did not consent to

Post by AndyJ »

Hi cwoodier,

I can see how annoying this is for you, to get repeated assurances that the images will be removed and then nothing happens.

I think it is quite clear that you own the copyright in these images, and that you licensed their use by the estate agency. You say that you made it clear at the time the images were handed over that the licence to use them would only be valid until you left the property. Was this done verbally or in writing? I ask because obviously if it was done verbally this condition of the licence may have become forgotten over time. Indeed in the circumstances it would not be unreasonable for the estate agents to assume that the licence lasted until the property was sold, since any other arrangement would not fully meet the purpose of having the photographs. And it is important to remember that you supplied the photographs as this was convenient to you, rather than have the estate agent come and re-do the photographs. Clearly allowing the agents access to the property would have formed part of the tenancy agreement and thus not something you could have refused. However irrespective of what may or may not have been understood at the time the photographs were handed over, you subsequently made it clear that you wanted the photographs taken down and the agents appear to have acknowledged that fact.

As this is likely to be a low value claim I suggest you would be wasting your money engaging a solicitor or taking legal action in person over the copyright issue. But clearly you would like the matter to be resolved as quickly as posible. You could raise a formal complaint with the company, and if this is not dealt with to your satisfaction, you can escalate the complaint to the Property Ombudsman. However the company may sidestep the complaint on the basis that you are not their client with respect to the sale of the property. Therefore you may find it more productive to invoice them for the provision and use of the photographs, thus creating a business relationship with them which you can then rely on if you need to involve the ombudsman. I suggest that you select a relatively modest figure* to invoice them as this is more likely to be accepted. The amount should mainly reflect the length of time the photographs have been used, rather than the actual provision of them which, as I have pointed out, was done as much for your benefit as theirs. And make it clear that the invoice is for the period between 1 Aug 2017 and the date of the invoice, and in the covering letter indicate that further invoices will follow for use after that date. If having invoiced them you get no response, or are met with further delaying tactics, invoice again in 30 days time and tell them that you will seek to reclaim the money owed through the courts if they fail to pay. If all of that fails to achieve the outcome you seek, you have the option of using the money small claims system, or appealing to the Property Ombudsman to adjudicate, or both.

* As a matter of comparison, a freelance photographer working in the SE England might expect to be paid around £30 per property with all rights transfering to the estate agency, thus there would be no right to follow-up usage fees.
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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