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Alamy demanding £500 fee for a website I developed for a customer. Please help.

Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2024 7:02 pm
by Sharpeagle
Hi all,

I received a cease and desist email regarding copyright infringement from the person I designed a website for. The claim is not against me, but his company. I am not a website designer at all; I used to do it for a hobby and he really liked a website I designed for my family business. When I developed it, I had no idea of copyright infringement rules.

The cease and desist email is from a Danish company, copyrightagent, who work on behalf of Alamy, which I believe is a stock image website.

They have demanded the image in question to be removed and a £500 fee to be paid. As the claim is not against me, am I liable as I designed the website for this person, or does the liability fall entirely on him?

I have removed the image from his website, although I believe he has not contacted copyrightagent back. It is more than likely they will email him in a few weeks' time demanding payment. As I did everything he mentioned to do in his email, I responded saying I will accept no further liability.

Am I at all liable, or should I now leave it to him, considering I have done everything he has asked?

Any advice would be great appreciated!

Many thanks,

Sharpeagle.

Re: Alamy demanding £500 fee for a website I developed for a customer. Please help.

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2024 7:47 am
by AndyJ
Hi Sharpeagle and welcome to the forum,

If you were the person who found and placed the image on the website you designed, then yes, I'm afraid you are liable for any infringement which may have resulted. Even though you are not a professional website designer you are still strictly liable for not obtaining the necessary licence or other permission to use the image. You also owe a duty to your client under the Sale of Goods Act that the website you delivered was free of defects, fit for purpose and legal, and so he can reasonably expect you to rectify matters.

However that does not mean that you are liable for the excessive demand for £500. Under UK civil law the copyright owner is only entitled to damages which equal his actual loss through the failure to obtain the licence. That is to say the normal licence value. If the image was available through Alamy I think it is likely that the licence fee would be a few tens of pounds, and unlikely to be more than £50. You need to find evidence of the actual cost of the licence for the image, and submit a counter offer based on that figure. Since the claims company is based in Europe, they may be unaware that if they wished to sue you in the British courts, it would cost them far more than they could hope to recover since in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), which handles small copyright claims, the rules say that the winning party has to pay their own legal costs (see paragraph 8 of the IPEC Small Claims Court Guide).