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In the frame: copyright infringement on the internet

29 Mar 2019

We have recently seen an increase in photographs and images belonging to artists and photographers that have been uploaded onto the internet being used by third parties without permission. Unauthorised third party use has always been an issue and a risk for artists uploading work to the internet, but the amount of infringement and the number artists prepared to take action seems to be increasing.

Images, photographs, graphics and other artistic works are automatically protected by copyright. This protection derives from the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 at section 4. Usually, and subject to only a few exceptions, the copyright in an image is owned by the creator (ie the artist, photographer etc).

The copyright protection that applies to artistic works prevents third parties copying the works, selling or renting the works to the public, communicating the work to the public and making an adaptation of the work. These acts are prohibited and will amount to copyright infringement if undertaken without the consent of the copyright owner.

The ability to now licence and sell artistic works on the internet has resulted in more and more cases of copy infringement. It can be very easy to copy and paste an image or reproduce work for commercial gain without the copyright holders’ permission. Copyright owners are facing an increasingly difficult task of monitoring the internet for unauthorised uses of their work.  The invention of reverse image searching has assisted with this task but the vast amount of websites and image libraries online still make identifying potential infringements a tricky exercise.

We have extensive experience in advising on all issues surrounding copyright. Prevention is often key and we can advise on methods of copyright protection and prevention. Equally, should you discover that your work has been used without consent we are able to advise on enforcement of your rights and establish the best approach and strategy with you to protect your work in a cost effective way.


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