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Thread: Unauthorised use of photos / copyright infringement

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    Unauthorised use of photos / copyright infringement

    Just a quick post getting a few opinions from the photgraphic community about a predicament I am in.

    I was hired to supply pictures to a societies/clubs division from a Uni which I am a member of the photography club there. No contract/signatures about what the photos would be used for except verbal which said that the pics would be used for upload onto a facebook page and used in emails - essentially just for the benifit of society members-, no mention of promotional material at all.

    I found out that several of my pictures have been used in promotional items, poster, pamphlets, in student diary etc. without me knowing or being asked. This was never mentioned in handing over the pictures, and if I was asked I would have suggested to be paid a fee for use of my pictures on such promotional material.

    I personally feel that these pictures have been used without my consent and are infringing my copyright since they have been used to a further degree than agree upon. I wonder if anyone has had similar dealings and how they handeled the situation and what was the outcome.
    I feel I may send an email to people concerened with an invoice for using the pictures and ask that any further use of pictures be stopped. I am also going to seek some legal advice.

    Anyway, would be nice to hear some advice from a photog perspective, and after reading the sticky threads I understand all information is opinion (although it may still be very useful).

    Thanks.
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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Quite simple,
    No contract, No formal agreement, no comeback.
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkChap View Post
    Quite simple,
    No contract, No formal agreement, no comeback.
    So who do you reckon owns copyright for these photos if there's no contract?
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    Just a quick post getting a few opinions from the photgraphic community about a predicament I am in.
    You aren't in any predicament, nobody is actually. The Uni got some photos, you got some exposure which is probably what you thought you were getting from the deal in the first place.


    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    I feel I may send an email to people concerened with an invoice for using the pictures and ask that any further use of pictures be stopped. I am also going to seek some legal advice.
    Waste of time, the only people that will profit will be legal beagles when they collect their fee from you after you receive a ruling that you won't like.

    Just as Mark said ^. You don't appear to have a leg to stand on.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    a good lesson learned. Get it written down.

    However, I would approach the person at the Uni societies and ask them directly. It could well have been a verbal mis-communication and either party could have misinterpreted something. I reckon a conciliatory discussion (ie don't go in making accusations) and see what outcome you can reach.
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    thanks for the advice.
    On the other hand of the 'no contract no leg to stand on'- could it not also be considered that since there is no contract that the other party involved does not have any legal right to use the photos at all. Just becuase they have them in possesion does not mean they can use them at feee will surely?

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    Account Closed Wayne's Avatar
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    Verbal contracts are very binding, things don't need to be in writing to be considered legal and to be relied upon. The difficulty comes in proving what was verbally stated, and that is where any witness to the dialogue comes in or any other form of communication such as emails etc.

    You are correct in the assumption that lack of signed agreement also places the recipient of the images in the same boat with regard to what was or wasn't agreed upon for the use of the images.
    Good advice from Rick, talk to them and see if their understanding was in fact on the same page as yours. From a compensatory perspective, you will in all likelihood get zero, or in fact less than your costs if you were to pursue them via the legal system, simply because you wouldn't have likely profited from the creation of those images, you (as far as we know) are not a photographer of significant fame and therefore not likely to have lost anything other than a fair rate for your work in producing the images. What is that worth? A few hundred dollars, maybe a thousand depending upon the scale of the work undertaken. In any case, I can almost assure you that the cost to pursue the recipient is going to be far greater than the reward.

    By all means ask them to remove any remaining materials featuring the images, and to cease using them with immediate effect.

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabian628 View Post
    thanks for the advice.
    On the other hand of the 'no contract no leg to stand on'- could it not also be considered that since there is no contract that the other party involved does not have any legal right to use the photos at all. Just becuase they have them in possesion does not mean they can use them at feee will surely?
    You mentioned in your opening that you agreed to supply the images in part,
    ..big snip - essentially just for the benefit of society members ...
    , whilst they may not have mentioned "promotional material" directly, could it not be said that promotional material is in fact, "for the benefit of society members"
    So they may be using your images as they intended all along, and may well believe that you agreed to that by giving them the images in the first place.

    I think best course of action is as already mentioned, make contact, have a chat, see what transpires

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    Universities - bless 'em, they live in a world of their own I'd go with the conciliatory approach and have a clear idea of the outcome you'd like. For example, being credited for each photo, that's something they can fix. I don't like your chances of getting $$ from them, University budgets being as they are. As you're a member of the university/society, legal action would be counter productive given that you may be a member for some time - not a comfortable place to be and seriously not worth the stress. Sit them down and have a chat, good luck, cheers Deb

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathy View Post
    Universities - bless 'em, they live in a world of their own
    Remember this is NOT the University, it is as the OP stated Societies/Clubs. These are student controlled, and operated, they are not financially linked to the University as such. Most of them are created over a few drinks at a student accommodation place, some of long and great histories, some have short and dubious ones, but the Universities themselves are not in any way legally responsible for these clubs/societies. The financial status of the University has nothing to do with the financial status of this club/society. Thus being run by Uni Students, the financial rewards of legal action against one would probably result in seizure of a barrel of beer as compensation. Not really worth it.
    Last edited by ricktas; 05-03-2013 at 6:16am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Remember this is NOT the University, it is as the OP stated Societies/Clubs. These are student controlled, and operated, they are not financially linked to the University as such. Most of them are created over a few drinks at a student accommodation place, some of long and great histories, some have short and dubious ones, but the Universities themselves are not in any way legally responsible for these clubs/societies. The financial status of the University has nothing to do with the financial status of this club/society. Thus being run by Uni Students, the financial rewards of legal action against one would probably result in seizure of a barrel of beer as compensation. Not really worth it.
    In this case it was societies and clubs organisation, they run/promote activities for uni students. They are part of the uni, however My pictures were also being used for higher subsections of the uni not just that small division.


    I appreciate all the feedback, I will talk to these people and see what transpires.

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