A student photographer has accused the Daily Mail of violating his copyright, the British Journal of Photography reported Jan. 21.
The photo in question was taken by Thomas Welfoot while he was participating in last November’s student protests in the UK. Students protested over proposed tuition hikes. Welfoot caught a photo of a student named Edward Woollard, “the 18-year-old who threw a fire extinguisher on police forces.”
Woollard was reportedly sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for his actions.
According to the BJP, the Daily Mail and its website, the Mail Online, have re-published Welfoot’s image five times “without his authorisation and without payment.”
Welfoot had sold his photo to Sky News, and reportedly thought that Sky had re-sold the image to Daily Mail. Welfoot is quoted as saying:
“At first, I thought Sky News had sold my image to The Daily Mail, but when I contacted them, they told me they had no deal with the newspaper and that it must have been lifted from the Sky News site.”
As the BJP noted, in at least two of the occasions of alleged copyright violation, the Mail credited Sky News.
After Welfoot found out that Sky News didn’t sell the photo, he reportedly “contacted The Daily Mail’s associate picture editor, Janet Tomlinson, who advised the photographer to send an invoice.”
Welfoot stated that he asked for £1000 for the three uses of the photo at the time:
“Considering that the image had been used both in the paper and online – twice online – without my authorisation, and considering the importance of the story, I sent them an invoice for £1000.”
After “a very long time,” Welfoot claims a Daily Mail accountant told him he was only authorized to pay £150.
“He told me that he had been instructed to pay only £150. This is ridiculous. And while this was happening, they used my image a third and fourth time. All Tomlinson could tell me was ‘what do you want me to do about it’.”
The case is notable because the Daily Mail was sued in December by a celebrity photo agency. The agency, Mavrix Photo, has accused the Mail of having “used up to 10 of its images without authorisation.”
In the comments section, readers debated whether Welfoot asked for too much money.
One reader, PJ, called the request for £1000 “overpriced.” In response, the BJP’s news and online editor Olivier Laurent wrote that £150 “would have been a good fee” had the photo been “contracted” by the Mail.
But, because the Mail reportedly didn’t have permission to publish the photo once, much less five times, Laurent called the request for £1000 “more than reasonable, especially considering the news value of the image at the time.”
Another commenter, Nick Stern, wrote “The Mail generally pay £150 per commission. However as the picture was used without authorisation a fee of £300 would be more reasonable…and fee he would likely get paid.”
Commenter Paul Stewart called Laurent’s comment “out of touch” because Welfoot’s image was already in “the public domain by his selling it to Sky.” To that, Laurent responded that “there is a huge difference between licensing an image and giving away your copyright of that image. In this particular case, Thomas sold a license to Sky… that doesn’t mean that the image is now in the public domain, far from it. It means that Sky News has been authorised to show that image. And the Daily Mail didn’t have a license to show it.”
iMediaEthics previously wrote about complaints over interviews with Jody McIntyre, who participated in the protests. The Daily Mail’s column comparing McIntyre, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, to a character on sketch comedy show Little Britain, garnered more than 500 complaints to the UK Press Complaints Commission.
Likewise, the BBC received more than 400 complaints for its interview with McIntyre.
The Daily Mail was accused this week of plagiarizing a report by the New York Times about using electronic devices on planes.
Hat Tip: Ink Stained Wretch