You steal – you pay !

Finally got closure yesterday on a long running copyright infringement dispute with a local council. In September 2009 we discovered eight of our images being used on their website without permission. We approached their legal team, explaining that we intended to invoice them for retrospective use and after several weeks finally received a response. This stated that they considered by commissioning the original photography they had bought the images in perpetuity and had every right to be using them without further payment. We referred them to our Terms and Conditions of Business but they dogmatically argued the point so we called in the team at Intellectual Property Protection to fight our corner.

IPP’s lawyers specialise in recovering losses incurred due to the misuse of a photographer’s work. Months of arguing back and forth ensued, with the council offering pitiful amounts in return for ridiculous and unworkable conditions. We decided at quite an early stage that we would see this through to the bitter end. Photographers and other artists are constantly having their work pirated and misused – particularly on the internet – and we were determined we would win through as the law was clearly on our side. They had effectively stolen our pictures and had no intention of compensating us.

Finally, in April this year their solicitors conceded when we told them we were going to proceed through the courts for five-figure damages. After some further negotiation we were able to agree on a substantial compensation payment and a promise that they would never use our images again. Victory for the small businessman versus the bullying local authority – and a victory for Copyright protection and the rights of all creative producers…

I would strongly urge anyone else who thinks their images have been mis-appropriated to pursue the offenders vigourously and with the full weight of the law.Only that way will we secure the future of our profession and all those associated with it.