Copyright rules applies to all! Welsh Government under fire for photo use

The Welsh Government has failed in its attempt to avoid liability after being on the receiving end of a copyright claim.

The claim was filed in the US by Pablo Star Ltd who claim to be the owner of the US copyright protection for two photographs of poet Dylan Thomas.

As the poet was born in Swansea, the Government used the images as part of their American tourist adverts and on their Visit Wales website.

Pablo Star Ltd stated in their claim that throughout 2014 the images were used on a variety of promotional material aimed at New York residents as an encouragement for them to visit Wales, all without authority from the copyright owner.

As the parties in this case were not the norm, the matter needed to be considered by the Court for a preliminary decision as to whether a claim could be filed against the Welsh Government.

Under US law, the Welsh Government could be provided by sovereign immunity and therefore could avoid the claim. The Government claimed that their actions were an “inherently governmental” function and therefore they could rely on immunity.

On consideration, while the court recognised that the Welsh Government’s actions advanced the “legitimate” sovereign purpose of enhancing the country’s image, it did so in a way that was common to any number of private-sector businesses seeking profit from advertising. Therefore, the claim could proceed against them.

The claim will now proceed to a full trial. Keep your eye on the reading room, we will be reporting on this matter as it happens.

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