By Patrick Ibbotson

Photo by Rayan Almuslem on Unsplash

Using third party imagery is commonly done but sourcing and utilising imagery must be conducted with the upmost care and attention. Otherwise it could turn out to be a costly mistake.

In UK law, copyright will protect original images and therefore there will be a copyright owner for each image. The owner of the copyright could be a person or organisation. Certain organisations choose to protect their image rights by employing copyright enforcement specialists to track down infringements and demand payment.

The sending of letters and/ or emails about potential infringements happens every day in the UK and around the world. Receiving these notices can be worrying as often they can look like scam or phishing which can lead to trepidation on how to deal with such demands. Indeed, the information about companies employed to enforce copyright are sometimes intentionally sparse with regards to publically available detail regarding their operational practices and governance. Demands should be treated with healthy scepticism and due diligence should take place. If it looks like it could be a legitimate notice, it should not be ignored. When receiving an infringement notice and the provenance of the image is not clear, it is best to act in good faith and take the image down.

Here are our top tips for dealing with copyright enforcement communications:

Ask yourself; how would a fair-minded and honest person have dealt with the work?[1] If the usage does not affect the market for the original work and a fair-minded person deems the usage reasonable and appropriate then it may be safe to use; however this is a grey area of law that depends on many factors and so may well boil down to risk management.  

For more details about how Naomi Korn Associates can help you manage copyright issues, contact Patrick Ibbotson, Operations and Projects Manager patrick@naomikorn.com

© Naomi Korn Associates, 2019. Some Rights Reserved. The text is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)


[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptions-to-copyright#fair-dealing

This article was first published on the Association of Independent Museums.