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  1. Media Law
November 14, 2023

Photographer wins court copyright row with local radio website

V2 Radio was ordered to pay damages and costs for the use of the photo on its website.

By Sussex News And Pictures

A Sussex radio station was ordered to to pay up after claiming it could not be sure a veteran news photographer had taken a picture it used online.

V2 Radio tried to argue Sussex News and Pictures’ Eddie Mitchell had not taken the picture despite being shown image metadata and his byline on another site.

The station was ordered to pay £135 damages and costs after a court found the picture was taken by Mitchell.

“It was a breach of his copyright and he is entitled to damages of the money he would have earned.

“None of this is unfamiliar to each of the parties,” District Judge Araba Obodai said.

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Nicolas Cottrell of V2 Radio claimed the picture was provided by a news source in good faith.

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Mitchell told the court his news picture was sent to his paying clients and posted on his own Twitter (now X) feed.

“In my role as a news photographer I was mobilised to this incident and took pictures,” he said.

“It was on my Twitter, The Argus and More Radio websites.

[Taking photos from social media: What news publishers need to know]

“I Googled it the following day to see who had used it. I found it had been on V2 and I emailed them with an invoice.

“Normally, an apology is more than enough – accidents do happen.

“I sent three emails and phoned them. I heard nothing back.”

Eddie Mitchell's photo used on the V2 Radio website on 22 November
Eddie Mitchell’s photo used on the V2 Radio website on 22 November

The court heard V2 initially agreed to mediation before backing out.

Nobody from the station appeared when the case was brought to County Court in Brighton.

DJ Obodai said the case had come to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court after the photographer and radio station were unable to resolve their issues.

The picture, taken at a road accident in the early hours of 22 November last year, was posted on the V2 site.

V2 maintained they did not believe the picture was taken by Mitchell as the road was closed.

Cottrell said there was no evidence the image was taken by Mitchell.

They also denied having any knowledge of the photographer despite admitting they had been quoted a price for his images in the past.

Cottrell said: “We published at 1050 on November 22. At 2127, we received first communication from Eddie. Within one hour, it was removed whilst we investigated.”

Asked by the court if the station accepted the picture had been taken by Eddie Mitchell, Cottrell said: “I’m not sure I can absolutely say that.

“No, I don’t accept that. I can’t categorically tell you that is the case.”

District Judge Obodai said: “What I have seen from Mr Mitchell is the metadata and on the balance of probability, I accept the photograph is his. His byline on The Argus, to my mind, is sufficient.

“The defendant says it had no knowledge of Mr Mitchell but the documentation demonstrates that is not quite the case.

“A redacted email referring to a different photograph was sent to V2 Radio.

“There is also another document from Mitchell where an inquiry was raised by the defendant wanting to use a picture which says they would have to pay for it.

“I don’t accept the defendant saying they have no knowledge of the claimant.

“The photograph is his to decide what to do with. Licences can be granted in different way and so-forth. No such request was made.

“The photograph was taken down following receipt of the email,” the judge said.

After the virtual hearing, Mitchell said: “I’m pleased with the win but it was an arduous task.

“There was always a high probability I was going to win and it was childish, pathetic to not engage in the first place.

“Even though it had my byline on it and they were shown the metadata in court. Thankfully, the judge took that.

“If they had apologised in the first place, that would have been it.”

The photographer said he would donate the money to charity.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about them sticking their head in the sand. I’m giving the money to the RNLI.”

V2 Radio were approached for comment.

The court gave the station 14 days to pay.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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