Copyright holders chase website owners over images

Freelancers and other small businesses are checking the licensing agreements in place for images they use on their websites after a crackdown by copyright holders.

The Forum of Private Business said the last few months saw a rise in the number of its online members who called its helpline with copyright concerns after being contacted by the rights owner.

Several businesses even received payment demands, the FPB said, in the shape of letters accusing them of infringement for using copyrighted pictures without the holder’s permission.

Often, smaller businesses entrust web designers to source and upload images to their websites, on the presumption that the designer will have secured permission to use them.

“However all too often this is not the case,” the forum said, pointing out that liability for any copyright infringement often lies with the business, rather than the designer who built the website.

This knowledge gap helps explain why powerful copyright holders, such as Getty Images, have been seen by the forum to be “actively pursuing” alleged copyright infringement involving their images.

But technology may have played a part too in making copyright issues hard to fathom, regardless of whether the business owner hired a designer to take care of images on their website.

FPB chief executive Phil Orford explained: “We’ve received a number of calls recently from members who have been notified by Getty that they owe money because they are, however unwittingly, using unlicensed images on their websites.

"I think the digital age has blurred the boundaries of image copyright in many people's minds and some business owners mistakenly think that because an image is freely available on the internet, it can be reused without permission.”




7th June 2011

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