Lawyer’s warning to be picture perfect

A stark warning has gone out to businesses this week to make sure they are ‘picture perfect’ and have permission to use images in their literature and online.

Amy Hylton, intellectual property solicitor with Midlands law firm Higgs & Sons, said companies need to be extra vigilant when using images – either on their websites or in brochures – in the light of a charity being forced to pay £10,000 for using photographs without the photographer’s permission.

Amy explained that over the course of a number of years, the charity used 19 images on its website. It had not appreciated that copyright in the pictures belonged to a photographer who had not given his consent for them to be used on the charity’s website.

Despite engaging a professional firm to produce the website and source the images, and believing that the images were covered by Crown copyright, the charity was found liable to the tune of £10,000 of damages, payable to the photographer.

Amy said that the case shows not only how important it is that businesses are aware of the history and copyright of the images being used, but also how hard the defence of ‘innocent infringement’ is to prove . She also champions the benefits to copyright owners of knowing what rights you have and actively enforcing them against infringers.

“Half the battle is being aware of the intellectual property you actually have in your existing work. The second part is actively monitoring sources such as the internet for potential infringers of your work and acting swiftly to stop the unauthorised use” said Amy.

For more information on copyright and wider intellectual property issues, please contact Amy Hylton at Higgs & Sons on 0845 111 5050.