Facebook users are breaking the law by uploading professional photography without consent, photography insurance provider In Focus has warned.
Following the recent announced by Facebook that 750,000 photos were uploaded over New Year’s weekend, the company has warned that more professionally taken images are being use on the social networking site, in shared wedding albums or being submitted as competition entries.
Steve Hewlett, specialist at In Focus, warns Facebook users to think twice before they upload photography other than their own.
“People aren’t knowingly breaking the law, they just need to be made aware,” explained Hewlett. “Copyright belongs to the photographer. This is unless the photographer has been contracted to take the images with the client owning the copyright. According to British law, copyright is granted at the point of creation. It belongs to the photographer unless it is taken by an employee in the course of their work, here it belongs automatically to employer.”
Hewlett, continued: “People mustn’t presume they can do what they like with their professional images; permission must be sought. You can’t just take a photographer’s work off their website or online proofing albums; it lowers the value of their work. Photographers are entitled to ask Facebook users to remove their images and can take legal action if they refuse.
“Photographers should supply an ‘Image license’ document outlining what clients can or can’t do. It’s good business practice to make things clear.”
Keith Arrowsmith, intellectual property and media partner at law firm Ralli, said that the US was at the forefront in battling this problem.
“In the US, there is a much more developed sense of image rights - particularly when it comes to the rich and famous - and this is now fast developing in the UK. The Douglas v Hello! Case – where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones challenged the publication on its use of unauthorised images – got the courts thinking. Image rights are definitely shifting and rules will change for the future.
“I have been involved in cases where consumers have been faced with demands for hundreds of pounds of licence fees after unwittingly using unauthorised photos online. There is a certain amount of naivety regarding what can and can’t be used without permission. The facts speak themselves, however, and people do get caught and do get in trouble for using images they have found online without seeking prior permission.”