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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AndyJ
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Blossom,

Thanks for clarifying the way you have used the logo. It doesn't really change anything. The problem with this company, and other claims management companies which operate in a similar manner, is that they tend to only pursue claims which they think will make them easy money; if you were a big international brand they wouldn't come anywhere near you because they know it would be futile.

I can't give you legal advice here and what you decide to do must be based on a) your appetite for risk and b) how much hassle you are prepared to put up with until they back off.

If I was in a similar position I would send them a short email saying that I thought that their claim was totally without merit, and at best would be seen by a court as de minimis as it is recognised standard practice to use newspaper logos as identifiers in this way, and since the amount being claimed is so utterly disproportionate and oppressive, it borders on something which falls within section 21 of the Theft Act 1968. As a consequence, I do not intend to have any further dealings with them and look forward to seeing how they will seek to justify such an outrageous claim in court.

If you were to use something similar as your reply I would not include the actual link to the law - let them look it up for themselves, as it might improve their legal education.
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Blossom
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by Blossom »

Thank you so much for your help. I will keep you updated.
InGoodFaith
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by InGoodFaith »

I'm wondering if anything happened about this after Blossom responded as indicated. I've also had a demand for £1000 for use of the logo but in my case it was because we had a screen shot of an article in the Daily Express which I contributed to (for free I might add!!) As part of the screen shot, the Express logo was on the top and also the writers name. I'm thinking that the response Andy J gave Blossom also applies to this case?

A business contact also has had a demand for a couple of hundred pounds for a picture and he worries that if he does pay it, he'll go on a black list on the black web of people who pay up when harassed for no reason. Does anyone know anything about that? He worries it will open the floodgates for scammers for him and I also worry about this, given that as above, clearly PicRights don't seem to care about the law so I'm wondering if the best thing is just to totally ignore them in my case since they don't have a case against me? Or am I massively over-thinking this?

Thanks so much to anyone able to respond!
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AndyJ
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi InGoodFaith,

I can't really add anything to what I said to Blossom about using newspaper logos as a way of supplying a credit to the source of a story*. If these are genuine claims, I think it's an indication of how desparate the print newspaper industry has become that they have to stoop to this sort of dubious practice.

As I don't have all the details of the specific allegation of the infringement, I can't comment on your friend's case, and indeed even if I had the details, the best I can do is tell you and him what the law says; I can't advise on you on how to conduct your negotiations, or indeed whether you should ignore these claims. However while I don't think a court would look seriously at a claim which just involved the use of a newsaper logo in the way you describe, this would only be the case if you were determined to defend yourself against the claim. Failure to do this would result in PicRights getting a default judgment against you, since there would be no-one to point out on your behalf why the claim lacks any merit.

* If you were quoting the Express article, as you are fully entitled to do under section 30 (1ZA) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, then it is a requirement that you provide a credit to the source of the quotation. I seems entirely appropriate to use the newspaper logo as a shorthand way to do this.
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InGoodFaith
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by InGoodFaith »

Thanks Andy, that's very helpful.

So it's important to tell PicRights that any claim for logo usage is de minimis. Does that preclude them from bringing a case against me without my knowledge? One of my clients tried to bring a case against an art dealer who ran off with his money but he was never able to do so although we had his address (in Spain) because the papers had to be delivered to him personally. For that reason I'm assuming that if PicRights decide to take me to court for non-payment, I would be personally contacted?

Also, further to your comment about the press stooping to shoddy practices now as a matter of course, I also looked up the Newspaper Licensing Agency and on their FAQ it says that even when people contributed to an article as I did and display it online, we may have to apply for a licence in order to display it online, which seems bizarre as I thought that was covered in editiorial under fair use and the Copywright Act, because at the time of publication, it was in the public eye as it was published on their site. In my case, my website is down now as I don't use it and this relates to an article I contributed to in 2013. I'd appreciate your comments.

Thank you so much for all your help.
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Re: PICRIGHTS LETTER FOR INFRINGEMENT

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again IGF,

On your first point, yes, if you were to be sued a letter of claim would first need to issued to you, followed up by the actual claim form. The court would take steps to assure itself that the form had been correctly served, often by contacting you directly at the address given by the complainant. Obviously if this was the wrong address, the court would be on notice that service had not been executed correctly. Since I assume that your website was registered in your name, it would be very easy to get your contact details from the domain registrar. Theoretically if you cannot be contacted (say because you live outside the jurisdiction of the court and have taken steps to remain anonymous) then there is no way an adverse judgment can be enforced against you, which rather defeats the aim of going to court in the first place unless the purpose is solely to get an order for the website to be taken down.

While I'm sure that the NLA's intention with their FAQs is to be helpful, however since their entire raison d'etre is to sell licences for their members' content, clearly their responses will be somewhat biased in that direction. You can take full advantage of both of the exceptions which might apply in this case, for news reporting and for quotation. And what is more, if the part(s) you want to quote include your own words, you do not need their permission for these as of course you were the author of the words and the copyright in them belongs to you, irrespective of where or by whom they were written down. If other parts of the article are the journalist's commentary on your contribution, or contain someone else's views in response to your words, that is clearly strong justification in favour of your use being fair dealing. It is unlikely that fair dealing, under any heading, will justify quoting the entire article, but given your personal interest in the subject matter I think any court would look more favourably on using a good percentage of it. The main factor the courts consider over the amount used is motivation, ie no more was taken than was necessary to support the point you wished to make.

With hindsight, a better way to have done this would have been to just to have linked to the article on the newspaper's own website. You could even have done this within a frame, so that the quoted article appeared within your website, without actually being hosted there. This doesn't require permission provided that you do not not breach any paywall or similar restriction on access. The obvious downside to this is that the newspaper could take down their piece at anytime without notifying you. Much would depend on how long term your item was supposed to be. Since you say that the website is now down anywway, I doubt if this would have been a major drawback.
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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