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December 14, 2016

Photographer wins ‘David and Goliath’ copyright battle against giant picture agency Alamy

By Freddy Mayhew

A freelance photographer says he has won a “David and Goliath” battle against international picture agency Alamy after settling with the company out of court over a copyright dispute.

Eddie Mitchell challenged Alamy over its unlicensed use of his aerial drone image of a fire at a school that made national headlines in August, taking the company to Worthing County Court last week.

It emerged in court that Alamy received upwards of two million images a day and so is not able to verify the copyright of supplied pictures, Mitchell told Press Gazette.

A judgment on the matter was stayed after the out-of-court settlement of £750 was reached.

Mitchell said the judge told him he would have won the case should it have gone to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, at the High Court, as Alamy had already admitted to using the picture and not checking the copyright.

Mitchell said: “Justice has been done. I’m very thankful to the courts for supporting me as just a one-man band. I was sitting there on my own and they had got their barrister. It was David and Goliath.”

Mitchell’s picture was supplied to Alamy by a contributor who had downloaded it from a news website which had used it legitimately, it is understood.

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The Times and Daily Express both ran the image with a credit to Alamy, but Mitchell said he settled with both before court action was necessary.

He added: “I wasn’t jumping for joy [at the outcome] because I was trying to get compensation and amicable resolution from Alamy who didn’t want to know.”

“The issue is that now every paper that has Alamy pictures will have to be aware that the copyright hasn’t been checked on them… but with that comes a hell of a lot of risk.”

A spokesperson said Alamy had no comment.

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