The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) provides copyright protection for numerous categories of creative works. Copyright protection in simple terms means that nobody may reproduce a work protected by copyright without the consent of the owner. Copyright is an intellectual property right that requires no formal registration, it is a right that arises automatically. According to s4 (1) of the CDPA 1988, a photograph or an image fall into the category of an Artistic Work, s4 (2) specifically defines a photograph as Âa recording of light or other radiation on any medium on which an image is produced or from which an image may by any means be produced, and which is not part of a filmÂ. It therefore follows that images and photographs benefit from copyright protection.
According to s 16 of the CDPA 19 Infringement of copyright occurs when a person copies or communicates to the public the whole or a substantial part of a work, either directly or indirectly, without obtaining the consent of the copyright owners, s17 (2) explains further regarding infringement of an artistic work, that copying means reproducing the work in any material form. Images on the internet based image libraries such as Shutterstock, Getty and iStock purchase hundreds of images from photographers/artists to compile their libraries, they then charge a royalty from future purchasers for the use of an image or photograph. You must be wary of websites that do not appear to charge for the use of images as it is very likely that images taken from such websites are under some form of ownership either by the image library or the original owner. It is crucial that you must also ensure when you have commissioned a website developer or are using an image on your website supplied to you by a whatever means, that you or the website developer have obtained all the necessary consents for the use of the image/photograph or you may well be facing an action for copyright infringement.
Letter demanding royalties
Image libraries as mentioned above use a specific type of software that searches the internet to find images they own. Once they discover an image they own is being used without their consent, they send out letters demanding royalties. The amounts demanded by such organisations far exceed the amount a user of an image would have originally paid by way of royalties if they had lawfully obtained the image, they may even potentially exceed what a court may award by way of damages. If you have received such a letter do not despair…
What to do next
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