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UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: £2851.42 just for one photograph !
« on: December 10, 2018, 09:24:36 AM »
Yes, small claims track judgements are not usually published. I believe it took a lot of effort by the claimant in this case to get a transcript with permission to publish.

There are moves to have small claims track judgements published perhaps on bailii or perhaps on an official court website. This would benefit both claimants and defendants to see what actually happens when cases come before the court. I believe the IPEC judges are in favour of publication and currently the matter is with the Lord Chancellors office. If you have an interest in Copyright Law, then it may be worth you sending him a letter on the Subject. If you are in his constituency, South West Hertfordshire, you can write direct but otherwise, protocol is that one should write to ones own MP. I know a number of photographer-claimants have written. It would be nice if some defendants wrote as well. The current situation of justice in the dark is in Nobody's interest.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / £2851.42 just for one photograph !
« on: December 09, 2018, 06:12:05 AM »
News has just come out of showing the sort of damages awarded by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in cases of Copyright Infringement.

£2851.42 for one photograph is the amount awarded by the High Court in total damages for the infringement of one photograph which normally sells for £195 GBP for use with attribution.

Of especially important note is that this total amount included  £759.70 "Litigant's in person costs" ( ie payment for his time ) awarded to the photographer-claimant because the defendant largely ignored the claim, which is the advice usually given to defendants on here. It seems following that advice cost the defendant £759.70. The reason is that Civil Procedere Rules expect parties to communicate with each other and make reasonable attempts to settle out of court. Parties that do not talk to each other can be found to have behaved unreasonably and the court may award additional costs under CPR part 27.14 (2)(g).

The rest of the award is damages for the infringement, court costs and the claimants travel costs to London. As with most cases before the IPEC small claims track, damages awarded were much higher than the normal value of the work in order to be "dissuasive" as set out in the EU Enforcement Directive.

More info, including a link to the judgement is on the Editorial Photographs UK (EPUK) website :-

In cases of copyright infringement, my advice remains the same, check that the claim is genuine and if it is seek an out of court settlement. In most cases that will cost rather less than £2851.42.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Getty images infringed my copyright
« on: December 09, 2018, 05:49:45 AM »
This case is not as simple as it would seem. Agency law is very complicated, much more so than just copyright law.

If I understand it, you allowed EyeEm to be your agent with the ability to sub licence through other agents. They have done this through Getty so Getty had a valid licence to sell the images.

Unfortunately my limited understanding of agency law is that terminating the contract with EyeEm does not automatically terminate the contract with Getty. Getty need to be informed and therefore to go after Getty, you need to show they knew the contract had been terminated. I assume this would be difficult to prove. You could go after EyeEm if you can show they were still selling either themselves or through sub agents, after you terminated the contract. Beware of terms and conditions you may have agreed to allowing them to resell after termination.

I would be very wary of handing such a complex case to a lawyer. In the worst case, if you loose, you could be handed the legal bill for both sides.. perhaps 20,000 per side. Simply maths say that risk is not worth while give the likely level of damages.

If you decide to litigate , then perhaps it would be better to do it yourself in the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. For that there is a snag as I see EyeEm is located in Berlin. Germany does not have a small claims track. The EUCJ confirmed in Pez Hejduk. v. EnergieAgentur.NRW GmbH UK photographers have the right to claim , in the UK, against any copyright infringers in any EU member state where the images are visible on the web from within the UK. Unfortunately I know of no claimant who has been successful this in the IPEC SCT. The only claim I am aware of has, I think, probably failed, due to insurmountable problems with the bureaucracy.

While I would like to offer hope and help in finding a legal path to get you damages, in this case I don't think I would resort to litigation. That doesn't mean you shouldn't kick up a fuss and most certainly, you should inform all agents involved that they have no rights to continue distributing your work. That way if Getty does it again, you would have a much stronger case.

If your sufficiently annoyed that you are willing to take a risk with legal costs, then you should talk to an expert IP lawyer. If your going for EyEm in Germany then you could discuss it with an IP specialist such as

The one thing you case illustrates is why many top photographers are now moving to selling direct. In your case,  you only have an agent and sub agent, however I have come across chains building up where each agent has passed the images to other agents so that you have sub sub sub agents, all competing with each other to be the cheapest. When any makes a sale then theoretically 50% ( or sometimes rather less ) is passed up the chain and so if a royalty eventually reaches the photographer, it is only a fraction of the selling price. Fortunately in some cases the royalty doesn't seem to find its way back to the photographer at all. These chains also seem to persist for years after the photographer cancelled his contract with the first in the chain.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Extortion Letter from PicRights UK
« on: June 30, 2018, 10:34:42 AM »
Copyright is a strict liability Tort, ie you either infringed or did not infringed. If a third party such as the websites mentioned  here gave you permission to use the image then you are still liable. The way the law works then you would have to pay the damages to the claimant and could then sue the person who gave you the invalid permission to use them. A suitable case judgement to read would be David Hoffman  vs Drug Abuse Resistance  Education (UK) Ltd  [2012] EWPCC 2 .

Its always wise to read case law as its just burning money to repeat arguments which have tried and failed before.

The advice often given on here is to ignore the claim, however my won advice is to check that the claim is legitimate and if it is then try to seek an out of court settlement.  If you ignore a claim and the claimant issues proceedings then it will count very much against you at any damages aware. Civil Procedure Rules expect the parties to correspond and each set out their opposing cases.  Failure to do so may result in an award of additional damages pursuant CPR 27.14,2(g)

Many people seem to beleive this does not exist so here is a link to the Government website -

I know of one recent claimant who was awarded more than 750 GBP in additional damages under this head of claim because the defendant failed to engage with the claimant ( ie they followed advice to ignore the claim ) That 750 was on top of the damages for the infringing use of the image. The total was over 2800 GBP.

I would agree with Mathews  point on wiggle room. Bringing an action in the High Court is a lot of work for the claimant and thus I am sure most if not all claimants , would prefer an out of court settlement , even at a significant discount.  They will naturally claim at the higher end of what they consider reasonable.

How much they can claim depends  on various factors including the normal selling price of the work in question, the extent of the use and the behaviour of the parties, both in relation to the infringement and their behaviour during litigation.

My own personal view, and unfortunately I have no evidence to back it, is that there are two types of claimants, those who intend to pursue the claim and those who are bluffing and have no intention of ever bringing a claim.

If a claimant were the latter type then I can see that it they may be tempted to issue a vastly exaggerated claim because it is never going to be censured by the courts. 

When considering whether a claim is exaggerated, one cannot just look at any given figure of X GBP and say whether or not it is exaggerated. It all relates to the value that that particular work is normally sold for plus any aggravating factors. Most Copyright Infringement Claims involve photographs and the value of a photographs in general can vary wildly from free, to a few pounds to thousands of pounds for a single image.

Now the normal licencing costs may be a starting point but there are other factors to be considered as well, eg has the defendant also altered the image, removed a copyright notice, meta data  etc  etc. In the UK the IPEC has awarded 20x the normal Value of a work ( Absolute Lofts South West London Ltd vs Artisan Home Improvements Ltd &  Darren Mark Ludbrook  [2015] EWHC 2608 (IPEC) )  Thus I personally , would consider a claim exaggerated if it was in excess of 20 x the normal value of the work, unless there were exceptional circumstances. ( eg the defendant made a lot of money from the infringement )

The figure mentioned of 10 x the normal value of the work is not necessarily exaggerated, however to achieve it court, the claimant would have an awful lot of work to do and would have to show that the defendant was particularly outrageous or made a lot of money from the infringement.  If it were to go to court, I think if the case was a fairly standard infringement and not particularly outrageous then the court would likely award a lower amount. I would not see it as exaggerated per se but merely the starting point for negotiations. This is just the way litigation works. As defendant your starting point would be the normal licencing cost of the work. Having a starting point of Zero is not helpful in reaching a settlement and would almost certainly  have a negative influence on damages if the case does go to court. Whatever the starting point and whether you are a claimant or a defendant, you should expect to move your position nearer your opponent during negotiations.

In all the case judgements I have read, and I have read an awful lot of them, no defendant has ever been found liable for copyright infringement and then been awarded zero damages, indeed the EU Directive 2004/48/EC  on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, states that the courts must award "at least the amount of royalties or fees which would have been due if the infringer had requested authorisation to use the intellectual property right in question". The Directive is online and is essential reading for anyone involved in IP litigation within the EU. It also takes precedence over UK statute law -

Article 3 of the above states that damages must be "dissuasive" which indicates that they should be rather more than the normal value of the work. Copyright Infringement would not be dissuaded if copyright holders were forced to undertake time consuming litigation, only to be awarded what they should have been paid without litigation. Thus almost all of the IPEC SCT cases I am familiar with have resulted in damages significantly more than the normal licencing value of the work, typically in routine cases 2x to 6x.

One point I should mention, is referring to defendants in general as victims is unhelpful. As with a large proportion of Civil Litigation, both sides may regard themselves as Victims. From a legal point of view the Victim will be the one who has suffered loss due to the unlawful conduct of the other party. Where one is a defendant in a case where ones own conduct has been unlawful, a more apologetic and reasonable negotiating stance is likely to achieve a better settlement outcome , or ,  should reasonable negotiations fail, would be looked on more favourably by the court.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: An update from 2013
« on: June 30, 2018, 07:09:11 AM »
UK law and US law works quite differently. Copyright infringement claims under 10,000 GBP are handled by the IPEC small claims track. Legal Costs are not covered in the small claims track ( unless the claimant or defendant behaves unreasonably)  Thus a defendant will have to pay damages for the infringement plus a few hundred pounds court fees. Typical damages awards are in the range of 1000 to 3000 GBP. I am not convinced that people will sell their car, move house, close their bank account , close all their social media accounts, go ex directory and hide for 6 years rather than pay a couple of grand.

Also if they do play that game, they are also playing a game of double or quits because if they let court judgement go to collection by High Court Enforcement Officers then the judgement debt will likely double.

I have known of a few cases which have gone to collection and its hard to know what the defendants were thinking but I think its most likely that rather than deliberately hiding from a debt , they have gained the false impression from here that the claim and the legal process is not real but a scam and therefore they do nothing until an HCEO turns up and says "right then, Im taking your car".

As for the contents of claimants letters, how both claimants and defendants behave in their correspondence is set out in the Civil Procedure Rules.  Claimants are expected to set out the legal basis for their claim, how it is calculated and the consequences of not settling out of court. If the claim letters contain undue threats or other unreasonable behaviour then the courts will likely award a much lower level of damages. Statements along the lines of pay me or I will issue legal proceedings are not unreasonable and indeed the claimant is expected to set out the consequences of not reaching a settlement.

Similarly if defendants misbehave the likely outcome will be additional damages for the claimant. Of particular note is that ignoring the claim , the usual advice here, is and has been held to be unreasonable and the court can , will and does award extra damages pursuant CPR 27.14,2(g).  I know of one claimant, a photographer, who was awarded over 750 GBP under this head alone because the defendant failed to fully engage with the claimant. That was in addition to the damages and came to a total of over 2800 GBP for the copyright infringement of a single photograph.

My own advice to anyone receiving a copyright infringement claim is the same as for any other legal claim , ie   first check that the claim is genuine and if it is then try to reach an out of court settlement. Knowledge of IP law and IP case law would likely help in reaching an advantageous settlement. My view is ignoring a lawful claim is most unwise. It only works if the claimant gives up. If he or she does issue a claim then ignoring it will likely prove a very expensive mistake, costing the defendant many times what they could have settled for.

Jaw Jaw is better than War War !

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Snippet Which Magazine UK.
« on: May 10, 2018, 03:38:46 PM »
 "(you just grabbed them from a Google Image search, for example) it’s highly unlikely that the owner will hunt you down and demand payment."
Well actually most professional photographers have seen a large proportion of their income being replaced with "help yourself from google images" and are doing exactly that, hunting down copyright infringements and forcing payment. Not only is this a perfectly lawful thing to do, but in 2012 the Government introduced the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court Small Claims Track to help and encourage them do it.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: An update from 2013
« on: May 10, 2018, 03:24:46 PM »
I think there is a real risk this forum and others may fall victim to its own success. The near universal advice on here and other similar forums is ignore the claim. I would imagine the vast majority of defendants do ignore the claim. Sooner or later Getty is going to wake up to the realisation that its actually more trouble to send 10 letters and do nothing than it would be to send one letter followed by an N1 claim form. 

I know a number of artists who claim for themselves and they don't wait around sending gazillions of letters that all end up in the bin. They write one or two letters and then its straight in with a claim at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. 

I have to say the advice given here to ignore the claim is very high risk and completely counter to the ethos of Civil Procedure Rules which encourages parties in a dispute to engage with one another and try to reach an out of court settlement.

If you ignore a legitimate claim, you will only be ahead if the claimant gives up. If they go ahead and issue a claim in the High Court then lack of response from a defendant will count very much against that defendant.

I realise many on here have said that Getty's policy is to bluff with never a real intention to issue a claim. However given that the universal reaction is to ignore the claim, then Getty will sooner or later realise it has no option but to follow through on its threats. If it does not take court action then it will not be able to  enforce its copyright and if it cannot enforce its copyright then nobody is going to pay it a licence fee. This is a multi million pound corporation, they are not stupid people, sooner or later Getty will be forced to bring court actions and if they do, do you really want to be a defendant in a High Court Action ?

The best advice for Copyright infringement claims is the same advice where you are faced with any other form of legal claim for damages. If the claim is legitimate, then your lowest cost option is to reach an out of court Settlement. Contrary to advice on here, I would suggest you argue your case well and certainly challenge quantum , however try to seek an out of court settlement. jaw jaw is better than war war.

I think a wise course of action would be to communicate with the claimant and tell then you have purchased a licence. You should tell them from who and when you obtained the licence.

There is every possibility that the claimant is muddled over who has and has not already purchased a licence. If you can show a valid licence their claim is stopped dead in its tracks.

The fact that they they have contacted 20 other users of the image is not relevant to your defence. Indeed if any of the claims are valid, the claimant may say this illustrates the extensive damage to their business and therefore additional dissuasive damages should awarded pursuant to the Directive  2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the council  of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Do be aware that because somebody sold you a licence they may not necessarily have had the rights to do so. The internet is full of websites offering to sell or give away the rights to works which they do not own. Wallpaper sites are particularity notorious for this. The legal principle of Nemo dat quod non habet applies and if you purchased a licence that was not valid, your use would be an infringement and you would be liable for damages. Relevant UK case law would be David Hoffman  vs Drug Abuse Resistance  Education (UK) Ltd  [2012] EWPCC 2

If you have been sold an invalid licence then you can of course probably recover any damages you pay out from whoever sold you the licence. This underlines the importance of obtaining image rights from reputable sources as you would find it quite a challenge to receive damages from an anonymous  Ebay seller or  wallpaper website based in China or Panama etc.

If you are facing a genuine claim for infringement then my advice is the same for copyright infringement as for any other civil dispute, which is try to reach an out of court settlement. Ignoring a legitimate claim is a high risk strategy. If they are bluffing, you win and its cost you nothing. If they are not bluffing and they issue a claim in the High Court then you will be sitting on a whole load of costs which you could have avoided. If you ignore a case that is issued you could end up with a judgement by default and a very expensive visit from High Court Enforcement Officers. The best bet is to talk to the claimant, see if they have a valid claim or not or if you have a valid defence or not. If you have a valid licence then they have no claim.  If the claim is valid then negotiate a settlement. The earlier you do this the less legal work the claimant will have done and the more likely he or she is to accept a lower offer.  Jaw jaw is better than war war !

Disclaimer: I am not a Lawyer.

The points raised by DavidVGoliath are very valid. Assuming you did infringe and that the agent named has the right to bring an action on behalf of the copyright holder then the normal value of the image would be at the heart of this claim.

Food photography is a strange business. I can take a passable photo of my lunch with my iphone and its worth very little. For others its a specialist occupation using specialist equipment such as lighting, macro or tilt and shift lenses and all sorts of tricks to make food look good, even going so far as to cover the food in non edible substances to fake a juicy look. Those operating at the top of the food photography game can command very high prices for their work. ( even higher than the figures you quote) Thus you have a wide range of prices and its not possible to say from a figure alone whether it is reasonable or not.

To solve this problem the courts will look first at the normal price of the work in question. If there is a sales  transaction history for this image then that will be paramount and the price that other agents charge for other works would be irrelevant. There is case law, see also Jason Sheldon v Daybrook House Promotions Ltd [2013] EWPCC 26

Do bear in mind that the normal sales price of the image is likely only to be part of the claim. You may face additional sums for lack of attribution ( a credit ) , removal of the copyright information or meta data and last but not least additional damages for "Flagrancy".   

Flagrancy is a strange concept unique in Tort law which allows the court to award whatever it feels like on top of the value of the image depending on how badly behaved you were. Its unique to UK as as the EU directive which takes precedence  only says damages must be "dissuasive". Either way the IPEC ( Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ) routinely award sums well over the normal value of the image.  The definitive case law on this is ABSOLUTE LOFTS SOUTH WEST LONDON LIMITED vs ARTISAN HOME IMPROVEMENTS LIMITED DARREN MARK LUDBROOK [2015] EWHC 2608 (IPEC) where the court awarded £6300 for images worth £300, ie 21x the normal value. This is at the top end of the scale as the defendant had made a lot of money from the images, however the legal principles hold true in all circumstances and its worth a read of the judgement to see how the law works. From your brief circumstances outlined I would expect a claim or an award anywhere near 20x the normal value of the work. Think parking without a ticket or catching  a train without a ticket, its not going to cost you 10 grand but it will likley cause you to take a deep breath ! A few times the normal value would seem to be reasonable but if your use was one covered by their £19 licence then 40x their normal price would seem to me as a layman to be excessive.

I am not familiar with and I have no idea whether they threaten action then give up or whether they follow through on their threats. Its unwise to generalise, there are some claimants who anecdotal evidence on here strongly suggests bluff but there are others, especially small businesses that can represent themselves without legal costs, who can and will issue claims at the drop of a hat. Be especially weary if the photographer concerned decides to pursue the claim himself or herself. Hell hath no fury like a photographer infringed !

Remember if they know what they are doing, it costs very little to issue a claim in the High Court. A 1 page N1 form  and a cheque for £115 and a few days later your a defendant. Unless you are absolutely certain its just a bluff, it can be a wiser solution to research your case very carefully and then , if their claim is valid, negotiate a settlement. If they are asking £850 GBP and their normal selling price is say £20 GBP then I would suspect there would be lots and lots of room for negotiation. Conversely if they normally licence at 850 then there is little or no room to haggle. Either way Jaw Jaw is better than war war.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I know very little about professional food photography.

UK Getty Images Letter Forum / Re: Getty Letter Advice
« on: November 18, 2017, 07:06:19 AM »
Its quite likely that Getty's claim is perfectly valid from a legal point of view. ( If it wasn't they could be committing fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 ) The problem Getty has is that in the UK most claims under £10,000 are handled in the Small Claims Track in which legal costs are extremely restricted. Thus to bring about a case in the IPEC they may well have to spend £20,000 on their own lawyer only to win £1000 which is simply uneconomical.  Very many posts on here seem to suggest their strategy might be simply to bluff and threaten legal action when they have no intention of carrying it out. The catch is, for their strategy to work, they will need to actually bring at least some cases to court to prove they are legally valid, otherwise nobody would pay their settlement demands.

Thus your correct course of action all depends on whether you feel lucky or not. If you choose to ignore the claim, then anecdotal evidence here suggests there is a very high probability they will give up. Unfortunately if they don't it will be expensive.  Do bear in mind that under the Civil Procedure Rules, Pre Action Conduct, you are expected to respond to a valid letter of claim so it won't help your case  if you fail to do so. Conversely they are also required to issue a valid letter of claim before issuing a claim. An email saying pay us some dosh does not cut the mustard in the High Court !

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer !

Higbee Associates Letter & Lawsuits Forum / Re: Higbee and Adlife
« on: November 18, 2017, 06:27:42 AM »
There is no requirement in the UK for Copyright Works to be registered and indeed in the UK registration serves no useful purpose for either claimant or defendant.

Its not clear from your post whether this involves a change in the ownership of the copyright, or merely a change in which company is enforcing it on behalf of the copyright holder. If there was a change in ownership of copyright after the image was first copied it opens up interesting possibilities for which there is no case law to answer. In all likelihood your liability for the act of copying would be to whoever owned the copyright at the time the work was copied.  Unfortunately copyright is not just about copying and the mere unauthorised displaying of an image is a contravention of section 20 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988, Infringement by communication to the public  . Thus the Copyright Holder has a valid cause of action right up to the day the image was removed from the web.

With regards to Creative Commons, if the copyright holder gave up certain rights by issuing  a creative commons licence, he or she cannot rescind them. If you complied with the copyright holders licence he or she has no valid claim. Unfortunately there are very many copyright works uploaded all over the web by people who are not the copyright holder and offered as creative commons or in other ways as free to use. These unauthorised creative commons licences are invalid and you would still be held viable. If that was the situation you would have to pay the copyright holder damages but you could claim those damages back from whoever claimed to be giving you an invalid licence. Its still worth saving the creative commons licence as evidence and use it as a mitigating circumstance in any settlement negotiations.

Because of the number of invalid unauthorised creative commons and other free to use licences, use of such works for free is very high risk indeed and something I personally wouldn't do.

A Link to the relevant legislation may be of use. In the UK Copyright is regulated with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The act is available to view on the Government website at

A typical case involving an infringing  photograph on a website would involve the following sections

Section 16 The acts restricted by copyright in a work
Section 17 Infringement of copyright by copying
Section 20 Infringement by communication to the public

If no credit to the copyright holder was given there might be a claim under Section 77 Right to be identified as author.

If the image was mutilated there might be a claim under  Section 80 Right to object to derogatory treatment of work

If the infringement is commercial in nature then it may involve a criminal offence under section 107.

If the copyright holders name or meta data was removed from the image there might be a claim under Section 296ZG Removal or alteration of Electronic rights management information.

Many claims involve amounts for "flagrancy" pursuant to section 97(2).

Damages for copyright infringement throughout the EU is governed by the Directive  2004/48/EC of the  European Parliament and of the council  of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The EU directive takes presidence over the UK Act.

I vital resource for anyone involved in Litigation in the UK is the British and Irish Legal Information Institute
This is an online data base of court judgements. While everyone has an opinion on the rights and wrongs of any copyright infringement claim, the only opinion that matters at all is the opinion of the court. Unfortunately the bailii does not contain IPEC small claims judgements which is a shame as most UK copyright infringement cases are handled under the IPEC small claims track. If you google specific cases, sometimes you can find small claims judgements floating round the net at other websites.

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