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PicRights claims £8400, editorial use of pics only. Urgent advice needed

Posted: Thu Jan 25, 2024 8:40 am
by suzlen
We run a non-commercial / information site; an online magazine.
We've received three letters from PicRights, claiming a total of €9,686 (£8400) in terms of license fees “owed”. At the time that their ‘bots crawled over our site, we, admittedly, did not have the appropriate licenses. The actual licenses for these pix (15) can be bought for a total of €690 (£590).
Eleven of the pictures (AP) can be found on Alamy at the price of £27 per picture, for editorial use only, with a permanent license. Two other pictures (AFP) can be found on Getty Images at the price of £40 each for a license of 2 years. The two remaining pictures are Reuters and cost £101 per picture for 1 year. These pictures are all from professional sports people which we cropped to a max size of 300px and are displayed in low resolution as an illustration on the table listing the sports achievements of the person in question. The idea is simply to put faces to names. The domain name of our website is registered on by a Belgian IT company. Three years ago we had our website redesigned. It is now hosted and managed in the UK (but the domain name is still registered by the Belgian IT company). The PicRight emails are addressed to "company name - Belgium".
1. Would this case, if taken to court, be under UK or Belgian law?
2. Do we need to clarify this with PicRights before making a counter offer? Or make a counter offer straightaway?
3. What counter offer would you suggest?
I would be grateful if AndyJ (Oracle) would advice, Thanks

Re: PicRights claims £8400, editorial use of pics only. Urgent advice needed

Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2024 8:04 am
by AndyJ
Hi suzlen, and welcome to the forum.

If the site is owned by a Belgian company (for instance they pay the hosting fees) and is still registered in their name, then the appropriate forum for any claims would probable be a Belgian court. PicRights may be acknowledging this by using Euros.

If PicRights have any direct evidence that the actual person (human or corporate) who was responsible for the alleged infringement was in fact British or habitually based in Britain, then they could try to pursue a claim through the British court system. This might involve a pre trial to determine which court had the appropriate jurisdiction.The legal latin tag for this is forum non conveniens and it can get immensely complicated (and thus costly) especially now that the UK is no longer subject to the EU rules on the subject. The choice of forum lies initially with the claimant, and it is then for the defendant to convince the court that they should not exercise jurisdiction to hear the case.

Since matters haven't progressed as far as bringing claim to court, you don't need to discuss the forum issue with PicRights if you intend to settle the matter without the intervention of the courts. However since the two legal systems (EU and UK) take a slightly different approach to the enforceemnt of copyright law, some of the arguments in support of your counter offer are stronger under the UK system. The main one is that if the matter went through then UK Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) small claims track the claimant would not be entitled to any legal costs if he was successful. This strengthens your bargaining position.

As you will have seen from the other threads and postings on this subject, the UK civil system aims to restore the wronged party to the position they would have been in had the defendant acquired the necessary licences at the appropriate time. Since you have information on the cost of those licences, that provides your starting point. If you wish to acknowledge that there has been some additional cost to the claimant involved in following up on the claim, then you are free to add a small percentage to the base figure to indicate goodwill, but this is not mandatory. The important thing to bear in mind is that the civil law is not there to punish and it is not there to enrich third parties which the claimant decides to employ to carry out the work of pursuing such claims.

Re: PicRights claims £8400, editorial use of pics only. Urgent advice needed

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2024 8:14 am
by suzlen
Hi Andy,
Thank you for your time and advice; much appreciated!
We integrated the points you raised into our counteroffer and are awaiting PicRights' response.

Re: PicRights claims £8400, editorial use of pics only. Urgent advice needed

Posted: Sat May 04, 2024 9:23 am
by FX Len
Hi Suzlen,

I have just received a similar claim from PicRights, so was wondering what the outcome was?