Copyright: How Dave got his copy wrong

On what he believes to be an average morning, Simon strolls into FinalVinyl where Dave is opening the post and looking worried. Simon thinks nothing of this, as Dave is rather prone to looking worried, and wanders along to the “Under a fiver” shelves.

However, Dave does not greet him this morning – which is unusual (even for Dave), and Simon thinks that there may indeed be something wrong.

“What’s up with you? he asks.

“Problems”

“I worked that out for myself. Your face is a picture.”

“If my face was the picture, there wouldn’t be a problem.”

After which baffling remark, Dave points to the perturbing letter.

“Remember that FinalVinyl started trading online?”

“How could I forget?”

“Did you look at the website yet?”

“Yep – looked good to me. What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s the picture we used on the home page. Wilson Blaze at their last live gig – at the Square Room in Woodham. And we’re offering T-shirts with that picture on, too (though we haven’t sold any yet). Turns out we’re infringing copyright by using it.”

“How can that be?” asks Simon. “Wilson Blaze were your Dad’s band, weren’t they? Surely if a photo is on the internet, it’s free to use by anyone. And if the person in the photo has permission – or their family in your case – that would be ok

“You’re half right. I’ve been on to Simplify the Law to find out a bit more. The privacy of a person in a picture can sometimes be an issue – but you’re right that it wouldn’t be in this instance. But it’s the photographer (or their employer) who owns copyright in a picture. And just because they’ve published it themselves doesn’t mean anyone else is entitled to copy it.”

Dave picks up the letter, which is a letter from Stow Pittat Wunce, the solicitors representing the local paper – WOW (or World of Woodham). It points out that FinalVinyl have infringed copyright in a picture from the WOW archives, and requires FinalVinyl to give undertakings to stop using the picture and come up with a proposal for financial compensation.

“So what should I do now? The letter says they could sue me”

“Take down the photo and t-shirt offer from the website, send back the undertakings that they want, and they won’t sue. There isn’t likely to be much financial compensation payable, because you haven’t actually sold anything with the picture on it. Once you’ve done that, if you want to use the photo, they might well be up for licensing it to you for a moderate fee and appropriate attribution. And then you’ll be fine.”

And that, in fact, is precisely what happens. After a short blip, and a modest outlay, Dave’s dad, and the rest of Wilson Blaze, are once again adorning the FinalVinyl website. And should you wish to, you can purchase the T-shirt, knowing that only a pound or two from each one will be going back to WOW.

Unfortunately, we can’t confirm whether the picture here is or is not Wilson Blaze at the Square Room, in case WOW’s lawyers get wind of it. And we don’t want to get a letter like Dave received.

So instead we are featuring the new and improved FinalVinyl Logo.

The Logo - was it worth waiting for?

The Logo – was it worth waiting for?

And if Dave finds that anyone is making unauthorised use of it, he knows exactly where to find the Letter Before Action…

Draft your letter before action on Simplify the Law

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