Court upholds photographer’s copyright claim against MGN
December 16, 2010
A newspaper commercially exploited a photographer?s copyright by posting pictures from its archive of back issues online, without permission, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
The Court of Appeal decision upholds a ruling by the High Court last year in favour of freelance celebrity photographer Alan Grisbrook.
Grisbrook, a freelance photographer, took legal action after realising that Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) was selling back copies of their titles online, including the Daily Mirror.
The photographer had alleged that, by storing his images electronically and by communicating them to the public in this way, MGN was infringing his copyright.
Grisbrook, who had no written agreement with MGN over the future use of his photos, complained that he had never consented to the inclusion of his images in the group’s back numbers database or on their website.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that the licence granted by Grisbrook did not allow MGN to publish the photos on its websites and that the newspaper group had breached his copyright.
Dismissing MGN?s appeal, Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Justice Etherton agreed that ?to incorporate the pictures into the website is to provide a permanent and marketable record easily available worldwide which could well reduce the value of the further use by Mr Grisbrook of the photographs over which it is common ground that he possesses the copyright’.
After last year?s High Court ruling, lawyers urged photographers to seek written agreements over future use of their images.