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Internet ‘Lifting’ of Copyright Material Need Not Go Unpunished!

Unprincipled ‘lifting’ of copyright material from the internet is sadly common – but it need not go unpunished. In one case, a loft conversions company was ordered to pay £6,300 in damages to the owner of photographs it used to emblazon its website without permission.

The company had made use of 21 photographs of successful loft conversions which were taken from the website of another business in the same field (the copyright holder). The images were taken down and replaced by library shots after the copyright holder complained. However, the latter did not let the matter rest there and took legal action.

The High Court noted that the company’s sole director had not been fussed about using the images to mislead his potential clients. He had shown no great respect for the truth, and the Court found that he had either lifted the photographs himself or was aware of their source but couldn’t have cared less about it.

The company operated in a different part of the country from the copyright holder and the latter had thus suffered no loss of custom. However, the Court found that it was entitled to recover the ‘unfair profits’ made by the company on the back of its copyright works. The Court noted that the award – which the director was jointly liable to pay – included an ‘element of deterrence’.