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Topics - gettyhater

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What is copyright?
The law of copyright is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  Copyright arises automatically upon the creation of a work which qualifies for copyright protection.  There is no registered process.  This means there is no registration certificate to prove ownership of copyright.  To prove ownership, the author will need to produce evidence of the creation of the work and proof of authorship.  The author will also need to show that he is a qualifying person or that the work was first published in a Convention country.  A photograph is covered by Copyright law because of the specialities of the photographer, i.e. angles, lighting etc.

Qualifying person
To be a qualifying person (s.154 of the Act) the author must have been at the material time, a British citizen, subject or protected person, a British overseas territories citizen, a British national (overseas) or a British Overseas citizen or must have been resident or domiciled in a Convention country at the material time.  Broadly speaking, this covers most countries of the world and it would be probably pointless trying to pursue this.

Primary infringement has occurred as you have done a restricted act; copied a photograph without a license from the copyright owner to use the picture.

-   To bring a civil action (for damages, account of profits, an injunctions, delivery up or destruction of the copies,legal costs and interet); and/or
-   To prompt a criminal prosecution either privately or by the enforcement authorisation (commonly, Trading Standards); (not sure this applies to you but more to those making counterfeit goods)

There are a number of approaches that the defendant can adopt;
-   Challenge the existence of copyright or the claimants ownership of copyright; how do we know that the photographer has instructed Getty to recover monies for use of the image
-   Deny the infringement
-   Claim to have been entitled because of a permission granted, to do the act in question, or argue that it is within one of the statutory fair dealing exemptions or claim public interest or European Community (EC) competition law rights

-   A claim of ignorance, that you didn’t know using the image was infringement or that it was copyrighted, will not work BUT it does matter when/if damages are sought against you.

Exceptions to infringement
-   Taking photos of buildings
-   Taking photos of copyright works in public places
-   Taking photos to accompany news reports
-   Taking photos to accompany a review or critique
-   Taking a photo of copyright work to advertise its sale
-   Using a copyright as a background in a photo
-   Taking photos for purely private use

A word of advice:
Don't Forget File Copies
Simply removing an image from a website or blog will not be enough to satisfy Getty. You must also remove the image file from the server. For example, if you use the built in WordPress tool to automatically embed a photo into a blog post it uploads a copy to your site and stores it somewhere on your server.

What I was going to suggest was that you contact a solicitor/free advice agency to get some advice and judging by all the forums, they say not to pay it.  If they are going to take you to Court for it they will need to send you a letter before action.  They have said ‘we urge you to comply with our request’, hardly threatening! 

I then stumbled upon this website from my own Google search and I would suggest you look into this and perhaps contact the solicitor.

A lot of the websites also say to ignore the letters and not to respond to them.  It is natural you are worried, but people in similar situations say that it is unlikely they will get several hundred pounds in Court.  More likely to be in the tens. If it was me, I would ignore the letters until they actually issue proceedings (if they ever do). 

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