Burden of proof - pa media group

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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ellap
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Burden of proof - pa media group

Post by ellap »

I received an email from PA media group on behalf of Alamy saying the following:
"We have noticed that you are currently using one or more images from our collection on your website. PA is the national news agency for the UK and Ireland and own the copyright to images taken by our photographers in the course of their employment with us.

We have been unable to find a license for this usage of our imagery by your organisation.

We're writing to establish if you have a valid license for the usage in question. Please send us a copy so we can validate it and close this enquiry."

In a knee-jerk reaction, I removed the image, but the problem is that back when I started my website, I had a well-paid job and thought nothing of buying photos from Corbis and Getty. Over the past 20 years, I've moved domains several times and changed web hosting and email accounts. I've also gone through several computers. I can't find a copy of the original photo on my current hard drive.

The image in question is from 2012. Alamy has only had the rights to sell this image from 2021. Shouldn't they be the ones proving that I don't have a valid licence?

Their latest email says, "This is our final outreach in goodwill, understanding that mistakes can happen. We offer a retroactive license for a one-time fee of 1585.00 GBP to settle the unauthorised use."

I don't have that kind of money. I'm retired. I'd rather go through all my backup CDs that are in storage first before I concede. Can I just ask them to provide proof?
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AndyJ
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Re: Burden of proof - pa media group

Post by AndyJ »

Hi ellap, and welcome to the forum,

You can certainly ask for evidence that Alamy have authority from the copyright owner to follow up on claims of infringement, and no doubt if they haven't done so already, they will also be able to provide a screenshot showing the disputed image on your website recently. Those two pieces of evidence are sufficient to form the basis of a claim, assuming that you are unable to provide evidence that you hold a valid licence for the image. Copyright infringement is a matter of strict liability, which in layman's terms means that the burden of proof is on you to show that your use of the image was not infringing, either because it was licensed or fell within one of the exceptions to copyright contained in Chapter III of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

However, even if they do have the right to pursue a claim against you, that doesn't entitle them to just dream up a number for the cost of "providing a retroactive license." Any claim for damages has to represent the actual loss suffered by the copyright owner for the cost of the missing licence. If you are right that Alamy have only representesd the copyright owner since 2021 then they, Alamy, can only claim in respect of the 2-3 year period in which they were in that position. If that is the case, they are seeking approximately £500 per year which is a totally unrealistic figure.

I hope that helps you to decide whether to search back through your archived materials, and hopefully find the licence.
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
bullnation
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Re: Burden of proof - pa media group

Post by bullnation »

Hi ella

I have received a similar email this week.

I wondered how your experience has panned out?

Thanks
nikita34
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Re: Burden of proof - pa media group

Post by nikita34 »

The burden of proof lies with PA Media Group to substantiate their claims with credible evidence and uphold journalistic integrity. Transparency and accountability are crucial in maintaining trust with the public.
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