Copyright Infingement & Small Claims

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by andynewell2001, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. Can I take action in the UK small claims court to claim compensation
    for a copyright infringement?

    I sell photos through a picture agency. A number of my copyrighted
    pictures have been downloaded from my website and used for commercial
    (advertising) purposes. My normal charge for this usage is about 150
    UKP per picture.

    I found a previous thread which states this money can not be
    recovered in the small claims court:

    Is this true and, if so, what would I need to do to recover the fee for
    unauthorised use? About 800 quid.

    andynewell2001, Dec 11, 2005
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  2. You need to threaten to take them to court, but nothing to do with the
    Small Claims court. Copyright infringement is now a criminal offence and
    you can actually threaten to report it to your local police. They might
    not actually want to have anything to do with it, since it's not quite
    like the copy bureau which illegally copies someone's photos, a bit more
    difficult to prove perhaps and less tangible evidence when the original
    is a file on your website.

    However, threatening to report the infringement might be enough to
    persuade the culprit to want to pay, and negotiate a price. Then you
    would have the ability to send an invoice. If they then failed to pay,
    you could pursue them via Small Claims.

    David Kilpatrick, Dec 11, 2005
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  3. David's advice on how to proceed is probably the best way - though be
    careful how you word any threat on the criminal side, as you do not want
    a counter-accusation of demanding money with menaces.

    As for the jurisdiction of the County Court small claims system for
    dealing with copyright infringement, the literature I have (downloaded
    from their website) does not mention copyright either way. However, the
    County Court staff should be able to advise you; they are not allowed to
    advise you on the merit of your claim, but they are able to help on the
    procedure, and a question of jurisdiction seems to fit into this
    category. It would be free, a lot better than paying a lawyer to advise

    If they do have jurisdiction, the process of making a claim is quite
    straightforward; I have done it 3 times in the last 25 years, and been
    successful each time.

    BTW, when you get the answer, could you please make a point of letting
    us know - I'm sure that others here would like to know!

    Good luck,

    David Littlewood, Dec 11, 2005
  4. andynewell2001

    Duncan Allan Guest

    Rather than saying police use more creative terms like Fraud Squad. Someone
    who is going to use your work isn't going to be put off with idle demands so
    the who approach has to be legalise and appearing to come from a solicitor.

    Making it sound more legal like starting with I am advised by my solicitor
    to write having evidenced blah blah blah to them.

    The go on to identify what it is and how much you are claiming.

    You could add that they may be unwittingly using your work having gained it
    from another party. However as they are using it, it is their responsibility
    to compensate you and subsequently claim back from the original offer.

    Offer them a sweetener at the end like if you are prepared to settle now I
    will accept £x where £x is lower than what you asked for originally.

    A strong letter giving the benefit of the doubt with a lower cost to settle
    may do the trick but always send by recorded delivery. And don't forget to
    put a time limit on the lower offer and a final deadline to settle in full
    after that earlier date lapses.

    If you do not get satisfaction forget small claims and go to a solicitor to
    issue a bankruptcy notice against them. That is definitely a sting that will
    not go unnoticed.

    I was told by the courts that they will not look at paperwork with, Without
    Prejudice on it. So if you are serious about what you write to them then it
    will be of no point putting it on to begin with.

    Good Luck Duncan

    BTW keep me informed how you get on.
    Duncan Allan, Dec 11, 2005
  5. andynewell2001

    Justin C Guest

    I echo the above. As an amatuer with a lot of photo's I'd like to, at
    least offer to, sell, I'd like to know how things pan out when plain
    sailng isn't what's experienced.

    Justin C, Dec 11, 2005
  6. I think you can only do this is you get a judgement and it is
    unsatisfied after a certain time. There may also be a de minimis limit.
    It is correct that "without prejudice" documents cannot be used in civil
    proceedings (though AFAIK they can in criminal ones). There advantage is
    that if you wish to make a settlement offer "without prejudice" for an
    amount less than you would go for in court, they cannot produce it to
    try to hold you to the lower amount. So it may be worth using this
    wording to make your discount offer.

    David Littlewood, Dec 12, 2005
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