Copyright infringement is an issue which unfortunately is becoming even more common in the photography industry. There have been numerous incidents over the past few months all related to theft of IP, on both small and large scales – from bloggers taking photos for their sites without permission, to large news agencies being sued by photographers for using their images without consent. Recently we spoke to professional photographer, Jay Watson, about this issue and how photographers can ensure their images are protected.

Tell us a little bit about the situation you found yourself in

I was working in my studio one day when my friend called and told me she’d seen what she thought were some of my images accompanying a story on the Mail online. It turned out she was right – the website had used my watermarked images without my permission to accompany a story it was running. The images had been taken from the personal Facebook page of the client I had taken them for. To make it worse, the images were being used to illustrate a story that I wouldn’t particularly like associated with my profession or photography studio. It turned out the images hadn’t just been used online, but were also printed in the Daily Mail newspaper.

How did you go about resolving the situation?

I phoned the picture desk and expressed my anger that they had been used without my permission. Obviously they could take them off the website but they had already been printed in the paper and picked up by various global news organisations – in effect, the damage was already done. They offered me a feeble amount of compensation to try and appease me but I pushed back. I sought advice from The Guild who referred me to a solicitor for some free legal advice, who in turn advised me on a letter I had written to the paper and ensured everything was legally correct. I was put in direct contact with the Daily Mail’s legal team who – after some negotiation – agreed to pay me ten times what had previously been offered in compensation.

What advice would you give to other photographers who might find themselves in a similar situation?

Initially when I found out about the situation, I was understandably extremely upset. I truly think the reputation and interests of the photography industry need protecting. We mustn’t let establishments of any size get away with stealing our images and using them for their own benefit. It took a few weeks to resolve the situation, but my persistence did pay off. I would recommend you do get legal advice as some things can be legally binding, so it’s always best to seek solicited advice from a professional.

Check out Jay’s website here: