Copyright law for online images
June 10, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

What are my legal rights, and what compensation can I get from a UK television channel who used a photograph I had taken without my permission, but which I had uploaded onto facebook??

Channel 4 news in the UK recently used a photograph I had taken of a friend of mine in one of its items (it's on screen for well over a minute). This was used without permission or credit. I had uploaded the image to a public group on facebook, but as I see it, I had uploaded it for use within the group and not for commercial purposes. It is certainly not legally public domain just because it is on a social website.

The news item can be found here.
The photo can be found here (requires facebook login).

So what I would like to know is firstly what my legal rights are here, and secondly who I can complain to (in UK remember) in order to get compensation? I hope I can get some money to donate to his legal fund.

(You may have seen the mefi FPP I wrote about the case here btw.)
posted by leibniz to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
(I'm not a lawyer, but I work with copyright issues in broadcasting)

In Britain there is no "fair use" exception for use of photographs in news reporting - a major difference from the USA. It certainly looks like they used your work without permission.

That said, your only remedy is to bill them at the going rate and take them to court if they don't pay. Have a look at the NUJ fees guide for the sort of money we're talking about - £110 is probably about right. Problem is, if they don't pay up, it's unlikely to be financially viable to sue them for such a small amount.
posted by standbythree at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2008


I don't know how it is in the UK but here in the US, news use of images is fair use.
posted by JJ86 at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2008


Did Facebook give them the photo? It seems they can legally do that, though ownership of the photo remains with you:

“By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically
grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant,
to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable,
fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use,
copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt
(in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose
on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare
derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content,
and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove
your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove
your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire,
however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of
your User Content.”
posted by meerkatty at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


MeTa
posted by grouse at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2008


I don't know how it is in the UK but here in the US, news use of images is fair use.

Well, no, unless you put the word "sometimes" before "fair use." The news agency I sometimes write for certainly doesn't give me carte blanche to grab and use any image I want.

For instance, when I did an interview with Stan Lee, I had to find a photo that we could get permission to use. As it turns out, we got a bunch from Lee's press agency, but if that hadn't been an option for some reason, I certainly wouldn't have been allowed to go grab a random photo off of Flickr.

At the same time, sometimes news use of images can be fair use. As with all instances of fair use, it depends on several factors including the amount used, the effect on the market for the work, and the nature of the work.
posted by lore at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2008


Are you upset on principle? You're seeking publicity for your friend's case. Doesn't it help him to have a photo circulate?
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2008


It would seem that the fair use exception for news reporting does not apply to photographs. See the CDPA, s.30(2).
posted by modernnomad at 2:20 PM on June 10, 2008


roger: I was happy for them to use the photo (but hell, if they'd asked they could have easily gotten better pictures), and I don't want to piss them off by causing too much trouble. I just think that I can potentially help my friend with some cash, and clarify a legal issue regarding internet copyright.

thanks for the advice so far everyone. Does anyone know how I can pressure them to compensate me (e.g. public body that deals with this stuff, or standard complaints proceedure?)
posted by leibniz at 3:29 PM on June 10, 2008


I think you're probably out of luck in terms of pressurizing C4 news - they'll not respond well to threats - and believe me they'll be used to recieving pretty potent ones!

Your best bet would be to give their newsdesk a ring, and ask for an email address for their news editor (Jim Gray?) Send him a nice, cheerful email, thanking him for raising the story, pointing out they used your images without attribution or permission - and asking them nicely for a £100 contribution to the fighting fund.

Try to play hardball or make any threats and I suspect you'll get nowhere... As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar...
posted by prentiz at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2008


pointing out they used your images without attribution or permission - and asking them nicely for a £100 contribution to the fighting fund.

Try to play hardball or make any threats and I suspect you'll get nowhere... As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar...



I would want a newspaper I was reading to disclose that they had made a "contribution" to this sort of cause... you're probably better off simply asking if they will compensate you the going rate for photographs and hope you get it.

...which is to say: I'd guess that you'll have to take what they're willing to give you unless you're willing to go to court for it.
posted by toomuchpete at 5:35 PM on June 10, 2008


Good lord, this is getting complex.

Just send a bill for £100, specifying which copyrighted image they used (perhaps print your picture and a screengrab and attach it to your covering letter), on which programme on which date, to the editor of Channel 4 News.

I believe it's Jim Gray, but that info might be out of date.

Address:
Channel 4 News
ITN
200 Gray's Inn Road
London
WC1X 8XZ

Send another one to ITN's accounts department, making clear to each that you've CC'd the other. They'll pay up.

Once you have the money, send it where you like. Don't ask them to send it to a third party.
posted by genghis at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to report back and say that having following genghis' advice, Channel 4 have now paid me 100 pounds. Thanks!
posted by leibniz at 2:38 AM on July 29, 2008


Nice to see this working out! I've read instances like this before, but wasn't sure if anyone had ever actually received compensation before!
posted by gzimmer at 2:00 AM on October 15, 2008


« Older Where can I watch the Top Chef finale in Chicago...   |   How do I measure daily adds/changes to a set of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.