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  • FIRST POST
    • CtrlAltDel
    • By CtrlAltDel 5th Mar 17, 4:37 PM
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    CtrlAltDel
    Copyright infringement - Letter to pay
    • #1
    • 5th Mar 17, 4:37 PM
    Copyright infringement - Letter to pay 5th Mar 17 at 4:37 PM
    Hi all.
    Ive a small website that promotes my cafe. I was looking to sell Xmas lunches for posted on it and used a photo i found on the web of a plate of food on a Chinese website
    I was aware of copyright, so i downloaded the image and then used google image search to try see if it was copyrighted. All the results came up (14 of them) and were none to any pic agency type website. So i used it.

    Today in the post i get a letter from a pic agency to say it was their image so they give me a bill for £2,200 or quick payment offer of £800 (if i pay within 14 days).

    Looking on their website, i can see the image, it has no copyright mark on the one they display. there is no info in the metadata of the image i have either. they would sell the image for 5 years for £225.

    They didn't send any type of remove request, just straight in with a bill.
    Anything i can do as i don't have the £800, let alone the £2.2k
    Thanks
Page 1
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 5th Mar 17, 4:59 PM
    • 37,281 Posts
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #2
    • 5th Mar 17, 4:59 PM
    • #2
    • 5th Mar 17, 4:59 PM
    Looking on their website, i can see the image, it has no copyright mark on the one they display. there is no info in the metadata of the image i have either.
    Originally posted by CtrlAltDel
    The obvious question is whether they have terms and conditions on their website - eg saying all their images are copyright.
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    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 5th Mar 17, 5:02 PM
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    Undervalued
    • #3
    • 5th Mar 17, 5:02 PM
    • #3
    • 5th Mar 17, 5:02 PM
    Hi all.
    Ive a small website that promotes my cafe. I was looking to sell Xmas lunches for posted on it and used a photo i found on the web of a plate of food on a Chinese website
    I was aware of copyright, so i downloaded the image and then used google image search to try see if it was copyrighted. All the results came up (14 of them) and were none to any pic agency type website. So i used it.

    Today in the post i get a letter from a pic agency to say it was their image so they give me a bill for £2,200 or quick payment offer of £800 (if i pay within 14 days).

    Looking on their website, i can see the image, it has no copyright mark on the one they display. there is no info in the metadata of the image i have either. they would sell the image for 5 years for £225.

    They didn't send any type of remove request, just straight in with a bill.
    Anything i can do as i don't have the £800, let alone the £2.2k
    Thanks
    Originally posted by CtrlAltDel
    All images are somebody's copyright unless they choose to place them in the public domain. They do not need to have a copyright mark for that to be the case.

    Ultimately if you don't pay and they sue all they will get is a reasonable fee, plus of course costs. Unless there is some truly exceptional about the image in question it is unlikely to be anything like the amount they are asking for.
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 5th Mar 17, 7:35 PM
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    Undervalued
    • #4
    • 5th Mar 17, 7:35 PM
    • #4
    • 5th Mar 17, 7:35 PM
    The obvious question is whether they have terms and conditions on their website - eg saying all their images are copyright.
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    Sorry, but they don't need to! Any creative work is copyright unless the author chooses to give up that right. Copyright lasts for 70 years for the end of the year of the author's death.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 6th Mar 17, 12:59 AM
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #5
    • 6th Mar 17, 12:59 AM
    • #5
    • 6th Mar 17, 12:59 AM
    Sorry, but they don't need to! Any creative work is copyright unless the author chooses to give up that right. Copyright lasts for 70 years for the end of the year of the author's death.
    Originally posted by Undervalued
    OK, but if the OP found the image they wanted to use in several different places, how are they to know a) that the image is copyrighted and b) that THIS picture agency has the copyright rather than any of the other places where they found it?

    If you're in the business of putting your work 'out there', surely you would put a copyright notice somewhere? And if you're in the business of putting your work 'out there' for profit, surely you'd put the t&c of how your work could be used and what the fees for using it would be somewhere?

    Or am I missing something terribly obvious?

    BTW I'm not, absolutely not, saying that we can all just find pictures online and make use of them. I am wondering how a responsible person would find the copyright holder in the OP's situation, or better yet find copyright-free material.

    Or maybe the obvious answer for the OP would be to take their own photos ...
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    • bearcat16
    • By bearcat16 6th Mar 17, 1:27 AM
    • 308 Posts
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    bearcat16
    • #6
    • 6th Mar 17, 1:27 AM
    • #6
    • 6th Mar 17, 1:27 AM
    I've seen this happen to other people, and image agencies (like Getty) are very serious about defending their copyright.

    I looked into it a while back, and the conclusion I came to was this: just pay what they're asking.

    You could ignore them or try to fight it, but they won't just drop it or go away. If they sue you (which has happened many times) then you'll most likely be on the hook for their legal fees as well as the £800, which could easily rack up to a few thousand if you lose (and you will lose because you don't have any defense)

    There'll be oodles of people who pipe up and say they are scam artists and you should ignore/fight them. That it's immoral. That the fee they're asking is too much etc etc. But they aren't facing legal action, you are.

    My advice would be to pay it and put it down to experience.
    • da_rule
    • By da_rule 6th Mar 17, 10:19 AM
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    da_rule
    • #7
    • 6th Mar 17, 10:19 AM
    • #7
    • 6th Mar 17, 10:19 AM
    Unfortunately as the UK is signed up to the Berne Convention the use of a copyright notice is not required on any copyrighted works. The copyright automatically exists for the relevant period (depending on the type of work).

    The onus is on the person wanting to use the work (in this case, the image), to find the original copyright holder and then establish (a) whether the time limit for the copyright has now expired and the work is classed as being in the public domain; or (b) if the copyright is still 'active' negotiate with the right holder (or their estate) in order to use the work.
    • martindow
    • By martindow 6th Mar 17, 10:27 AM
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    martindow
    • #8
    • 6th Mar 17, 10:27 AM
    • #8
    • 6th Mar 17, 10:27 AM
    How can you be sure that someone does indeed have copyright of an image?

    It would be very easy for someone to send out speculative emails to web sites claiming images are theirs. A real money spinner if even a very small number of people pay up.
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 6th Mar 17, 11:30 AM
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    Undervalued
    • #9
    • 6th Mar 17, 11:30 AM
    • #9
    • 6th Mar 17, 11:30 AM
    OK, but if the OP found the image they wanted to use in several different places, how are they to know a) that the image is copyrighted and b) that THIS picture agency has the copyright rather than any of the other places where they found it?

    If you're in the business of putting your work 'out there', surely you would put a copyright notice somewhere? And if you're in the business of putting your work 'out there' for profit, surely you'd put the t&c of how your work could be used and what the fees for using it would be somewhere?

    Or am I missing something terribly obvious?

    BTW I'm not, absolutely not, saying that we can all just find pictures online and make use of them. I am wondering how a responsible person would find the copyright holder in the OP's situation, or better yet find copyright-free material.

    Or maybe the obvious answer for the OP would be to take their own photos ...
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    I'm afraid you are.

    Basically any image is copyright unless either the author (or whoever he has assigned the rights to) has placed it in the public domain. Or, it is more than 70 years since the end of the year of the author's death.

    It doesn't matter how much the image is "out there", unless you know the copyright has be waived you must assume it exists. You cannot assume just because it it has not been marked copyright it is free to use.

    Whilst there is probably a very good chance of getting away with it lots of times some copyright holders, or their agents, pursue infringements aggressively.

    If you just help yourself to somebody else's image you run the risk of exactly what has happened here.

    Keep in mind too that if you commission somebody to take a photograph for you the copyright belongs to them unless they specifically agree to the contrary. The commissioner normally only acquires the rights to use the image for the originally intended purpose.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 6th Mar 17, 4:48 PM
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    Guest101
    I think De Minimis Non Curat Lex would apply.

    • DomRavioli
    • By DomRavioli 6th Mar 17, 6:09 PM
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    DomRavioli
    I think De Minimis Non Curat Lex would apply.

    Originally posted by Guest101
    It doesn't. Read the post above about the Berne agreement.

    If someone wants to sue for this, they can. What you have quoted above is not relevant nor useful.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 6th Mar 17, 11:07 PM
    • 37,281 Posts
    • 33,574 Thanks
    Savvy_Sue
    I'm afraid you are.

    Basically any image is copyright unless either the author (or whoever he has assigned the rights to) has placed it in the public domain. Or, it is more than 70 years since the end of the year of the author's death.

    It doesn't matter how much the image is "out there", unless you know the copyright has be waived you must assume it exists. You cannot assume just because it it has not been marked copyright it is free to use.

    Whilst there is probably a very good chance of getting away with it lots of times some copyright holders, or their agents, pursue infringements aggressively.

    If you just help yourself to somebody else's image you run the risk of exactly what has happened here.

    Keep in mind too that if you commission somebody to take a photograph for you the copyright belongs to them unless they specifically agree to the contrary. The commissioner normally only acquires the rights to use the image for the originally intended purpose.
    Originally posted by Undervalued
    Which brings me back to my original post, and the post above yours:

    How can you be sure that someone does indeed have copyright of an image?

    It would be very easy for someone to send out speculative emails to web sites claiming images are theirs. A real money spinner if even a very small number of people pay up.
    Originally posted by martindow
    Plus, as I read it, the OP found several instances of the image they wanted to use online. How do they trace the copyright holder?
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    • bearcat16
    • By bearcat16 6th Mar 17, 11:46 PM
    • 308 Posts
    • 346 Thanks
    bearcat16
    Plus, as I read it, the OP found several instances of the image they wanted to use online. How do they trace the copyright holder?
    Who cares if they can trace the copyright holder or not. Not being able to trace the copyright holder does not mean you can use it all you like (or even once). It's simply no defense.

    The answer to the question "what if I can't trace the copyright holder?" is "don't use the image".
    • Undervalued
    • By Undervalued 7th Mar 17, 9:25 AM
    • 2,612 Posts
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    Undervalued
    Who cares if they can trace the copyright holder or not. Not being able to trace the copyright holder does not mean you can use it all you like (or even once). It's simply no defense.

    The answer to the question "what if I can't trace the copyright holder?" is "don't use the image".
    Originally posted by bearcat16
    Exactly!

    As a recent headline case showed, finding a £20 note on the ground doesn't give you the right to keep it just because you can't trace the owner. It gave that lady a right to a criminal record!
    • da_rule
    • By da_rule 7th Mar 17, 9:43 AM
    • 2,318 Posts
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    da_rule
    There are registers of copyrights that can be searched, but these are not compulsory for a copyright holder to sign up to. Some charge £50-£60 for each work registered so unless the work had real potential or actual value it probably isn't worth registering (but it still is protected).

    As has been said, being unable (or unwilling) to find the owner is not an excuse. There are plenty of sites out there that offer public domain images or images that can be purchased and used for commercial endeavour (or you can just take your own).
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 7th Mar 17, 9:47 AM
    • 13,243 Posts
    • 12,752 Thanks
    Guest101
    It doesn't. Read the post above about the Berne agreement.

    If someone wants to sue for this, they can. What you have quoted above is not relevant nor useful.
    Originally posted by DomRavioli
    I disagree, the principle applies in all courts.


    Someone can sue for anything, I could sue you for £1,000 if I wanted to, doesn't mean I'd win.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 7th Mar 17, 9:49 AM
    • 13,243 Posts
    • 12,752 Thanks
    Guest101
    Exactly!

    As a recent headline case showed, finding a £20 note on the ground doesn't give you the right to keep it just because you can't trace the owner. It gave that lady a right to a criminal record!
    Originally posted by Undervalued


    Actually it does, the police even said, take reasonable steps to find the owner.


    She didn't...
    • FatVonD
    • By FatVonD 12th Mar 17, 9:30 PM
    • 4,278 Posts
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    FatVonD
    A magazine I worked for had to pay £16,000 for using a pic they'd found on the internet so £800 sounds like you're getting off lightly.

    I guess you could try offering a smaller amount coupled with offering to take it down.

    In future try istockphoto, shutterstock, bigstock etc where you will be able to buy a pic for less than £20.
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    • springdreams
    • By springdreams 12th Mar 17, 10:13 PM
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    springdreams
    OP, not sure if you qualify, but this may be of help:

    http://www.ipprobono.org.uk/
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    • patman99
    • By patman99 12th Mar 17, 10:38 PM
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    patman99
    Getty did gain a reputation for going after people for copyright infringments even if the picture was taken by the person using it. Their excuse was that the picture was exactly the same as a picture in their image library taken by xxx, therefore, the user must have used it without permission.

    In this case, the op has found an image, searched to see who else has used it, found that a number of other site used it, so used it themselves.
    Now, the op has had a letter from a photo agency regarding his use of said image on his website and a bill has been include.

    At a guess, I wonder how many of the other sites the op found the image in use on have also received the same letter.

    As a photographer myself, it does irk me to see folks using copyright images without first obtaining permission. If the op wants to use other peoples images on his site, then he should have googled for either 'copyleft images' or 'copyright-free images' and used one of those instead.
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