News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for April 21st, 2011

Copyright Infringement Update

by on Apr.21, 2011, under Photography

If you were following this blog back in late January, you may remember that I had my first serious case of copyright infringement when a local telephone directory company decided to pick up one of my photos from Flickr and use it on the cover of their local directory. After an exchange of 5 letters and a couple of phone calls, I am delighted to report that the claim is now resolved. The directory company admitted that they were at fault and paid a mutually acceptable fee for a license to use the image. As expected, it seems that this was another case of someone in the production side labouring under the misapprehension that any image which is on the internet is automatically in the public domain.

As regards the actual settlement, you’ll need to take me out and buy me a few beers to find out the final cost to the infringers. Suffice it to say that it was less than my original demand but significantly more than they would have paid had they approached me for a license in good faith prior to publication. No doubt some of you are also wondering why I decided to settle rather than taking the matter to court. I’m 100% sure that I could have won a larger settlement after taking legal action but, weighing up the pros and cons (mostly cons related to the time, effort and stress involved in a dealing with lawyers and a court case) and after discussing the situation with my wife and a couple of lawyer friends, I decided that negotiating rather than litigating was in everyone’s best interest.

So what have I learned through all this? The main thing I take away from the experience aside from being doubly careful to embed copyright info in all my files (which was apparently not something I did until the end of 2004) is that it’s easy to bluster about taking someone to court but, when you are actually in a position to do it, you need to think long and hard about how much time and effort it will cost both you and your family if things get nasty. I think, in the end, this worked out as a win-win – the negotiation was very professional, no-one got stuck with legal fees and I was fairly recompensed for the use of one of my images.

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