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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 10 Apr 2015 (Friday) 06:31
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Possible Copyright Infringment UK?

 
twinkle_2k86
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Apr 10, 2015 06:31 |  #1

Would anyone know where I would stand with this please.

Last year I worked for a company as an engineer. But as I was also a photographer, I was asked if I could do some Product images for them for a new website. I said yes, as It was good experience for me.
I didn't get any pay for them, but did do them in the day in normal office hours. I did how ever spend my own time un paid editing them.

I finished them, uploaded to my Flickr account, and also had them stored on my PC at work as a back up. The images where not used as the website they where having built was not finish.

Anyway, about 2 months after I had done them, I got made redundant, as they where in finance trouble. I took my saved images off the PC, but left them on my Flickr.

Last month (March), I see the website now has my images on, And been modified to have the company logo watermarked across them.

Now the question is, Can they still use my images with out asking even though I have left the company? Does the company hold the copyright to the images, or do I? As they didn't use them when I was employed, yet 10 months late use them, is that still OK?

If anyone could help I would be grateful. I would like to know if I would have a case against them?


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Qlayer2
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Apr 10, 2015 06:43 |  #2

Works created while an employee are typically your employers, unless you have a contract stating you were hired as a freelancer or independent contractor. You could argue this with the company, but since you probably didn't have a contract discussing copyright or usage rights, the courts would probably decide you were an employee completing an assignment for your employer, and they are entitled to the images.

https://www.gov.uk/own​ership-of-copyright-works (external link)




  
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twinkle_2k86
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Apr 10, 2015 07:39 |  #3

Yer I have read online about this :(

I didn't have a contract to do it, as I took the photos in work hours, but edited them all out of hours.

I just did not know if I had a case as they didn't use them when I was employed with them, but now they have.


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Trvlr323
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Apr 10, 2015 07:46 |  #4

In matter like these, particularly when it concerns your professional image or your income, it is rarely a good idea to seek advice on a public forum. I would suggest that you consult with a professional who deals in this area of law in your place of residence. Often times you can get this kind of advice for free. In my area there are several universities that have law programs. One of them has a service to help students gain experience be dealing with real legal issues. They accept calls from public, consult with professors and in turn provide a response. Even if nothing like this exists in your area it may be worth it to pay for a 30 minute consultation with a lawyer.


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sspellman
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Apr 10, 2015 08:54 |  #5

In the US, all work product created during working hours as part of your job responsibilities is 100% property of your employer unless you have a contract that excludes some kinds of work. The fact that you did editing after hours, or left the company does not change their ownership rights. I have not worked for a company in 15 years where I did not sign an agreement that confirmed this.

Since you are in the UK, your legal position may be different. Talk to a real lawyer for real legal advice.


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MattPharmD
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Apr 11, 2015 13:03 as a reply to  @ sspellman's post |  #6

Yet, without the agreement, the real answer isn't clear.

I am not a photographer and have not signed a "work belongs to the company" agreement. I actually have examples of the opposite. I have work created during work hours, where implied agreement has left the copyright with me.

He should check with a UK lawyer, and see if he had some kind of job description or work agreement.


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Apr 11, 2015 14:16 |  #7

In the US without a specific work for hire contract existing for the photographs even if taken as an employee of the company the copyright should remain with the photographer. I believe the US courts have been very specific on this matter. Here in the UK things are quite a bit different. Given the situation my closest guess would be that without seeing a contract of employment it would probably come down to the photographer still owning the copyright, but the company having a pretty unlimited licence to use them, as you seem to have supplied them with copies of the image. What was the original agreement for the use of the images? Do you have that in writing?

I know getting the boot from them, only to find that they have gone ahead and used them afterwards is annoying. I can only say that you only have yourself to blame if you left them up on your Flickr for them to lift. If they did not have access to the images they could not have used them. Even though you are not working for them anymore would being difficult with this firm be likely to affect your prospects with other companies in a similar line of work?

Alan


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Brian ­ Parkes
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Apr 11, 2015 17:47 |  #8

Why do you not want them to use the images now? You agreed to shoot the images while you were an employee and did so in work time, you did some out of hours processing but lots of employees but in a few extra hours at the office. Why the change of heart?


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Apr 12, 2015 00:02 |  #9

I'm not an IP lawyer but I have spent 20 years working with some of the top IP lawyers in the UK on multi-million dollar IP licensing agreements....

1. Under UK law your employer owns the copyright on works created "as part of your work". There are various criteria to assess whether or not it was "as part of your work" but ultimately the decision can only be made by a court - so, is it worth paying a large amount of money to go to court over images you were happy for them to use and for which you (at least in part) got paid to produce.
2. Even if they don't own the copyright they could easily argue that you granted them an (at least implied) license to use the images. You did the work during work hours and you knew what the images were to be used for. Such a license wouldn't cease just because you stopped working for the company or because they didn't use them immediately.

Conclusion
It would cost you way more to go to court than you would ever gain - especially as you were, at least in part, paid. If you did want to be paid for the PP work you should have addressed that issue at the time.

You were happy for them to use the images when you were employed but since being made redundant you are no longer happy - that sounds like a slight case of sour grapes. Would you expect them to delete/stop using all the other work you did for them just because you are no longer employed?

I would suggest you forget about it and move on. However if you do want to talk to an IP lawyer I have a (possibly slightly out of date) list on my old web site at http://www.obscure.co.​uk/directory/directory​-legal/ (external link)


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twinkle_2k86
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Apr 14, 2015 03:26 |  #10

Thank you all for your input.

I have learnt a lesson here, that I shall remember in the future.

I know it sounds like im being petty, I had no problems with them using my images when I was employed with them. I suppose the bit that's made me think, is they have only now used the images, 8 / 9 months after i had left the company.
The other really annoying thing, is the images that are on the website, are so poor quality it makes my images look awful :(


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DoughnutPhoto
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Apr 20, 2015 04:17 |  #11

If you have good relations within the company, you could ask for a license to use the photographs on your own portfolio online - obviously in a much better quality. You'd have to mention that it was work done for your old company and they hold the copyright, but it would allow people to get a better impression of your work.


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PhotosGuy
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Apr 20, 2015 08:14 |  #12

Personally, I'd be inclined to just forget the © issue & move on.

twinkle_2k86 wrote in post #17516473 (external link)
The other really annoying thing, is the images that are on the website, are so poor quality it makes my images look awful :(

Maybe this is an opportunity to approach them with that fact & offer to fix the images at a price? Maybe they would pay to replace them with better ones?


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RMH
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Apr 20, 2015 10:48 |  #13

The first place to check would be your employment contract tbh; I once had one in the UK that explicitly stated that copyright on anything I produced while an employee (while in company time or my own) belonged to the company. If there's no mention then there's probably no guaranteed answer without taking it to court, however I find it hard to imagine that it could possibly be worth while doing so.

If you are not credited on the photos then it's not making you look bad. I'd be tempted to just move on, or try Franks suggestion. Either way, don't get too worked up over it.



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Possible Copyright Infringment UK?
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