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Last year I posted that the company for whom I work, a famous attraction in Cheddar, Somerset, had used ten of my pictures on their new web site without my permission and wouldn't pay me or even give me credit for them. Now, having re branded, they've printed all new tickets and blow me down there are three on my images on one of the tickets! Where do I go from here? I have to bear in mind that I still work there, and would like to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but I also think they should pay me something for my pictures!
What do you guys think?
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I would be tempted to get a solicitor to write a letter to them making a financial claim on them. Likewise I would get the solicitor to point out that you are an employee of the company and that he will be keeping a watching brief should anything happen to your employment conditions. Dismissal, constructive or otherwise, without due cause, subject to your contract conditions and length of service is very expensive for the employer.
Well, we are only seeing one side of the story so cannot really comment any further, except perhaps, that you should have sorted this out last year.
As I said, I did try to sort it out last year. As they had had ten pictures on their web site for six months I suggested they paid £1200 for their current use and any future exclusive use where and when they wanted. They came back and offered £250 which I rejected, considering where they were being used. At the time we were under new "aggressive" management and I got the impression shut up or get out - so I shut up for the time being. However, with this new development?
My thoughts are to just do nothing for the time being, until I leave, keep records of all the evidence and then go through a solicitor in hindsight. With this in mind, how long can one wait before it becomes "too late"?
Strike whilst the iron is hot! You might be already too late, since you have "allowed" them to use your images on their website for some months, which indicates, at least to me, that you are luke warm regarding your intellectual property. I note that you have your own web site, which is copywrited, and also I assume is the source of the offending pictures. If you are planning to leave, then you perhaps wouldn't care about having to go down the wrongful dismissal route. Get legal advice!!!!
Did you take the images on their time? How did they acquire the image files for printing purposes?
I imagine these are two fundamental questions any solicitor would ask.
Thank you sherlob.
Firstly, no, all pictures were taken in my time.
Under the "old" regime, out local manager ran our part of the organisation. When he decorated our restaurant he asked me if I would mind if he used some of my wildlife pictures, with credit, to hang around the rooms. Obviously I agreed. Good, free publicity!
Under the new central management, our manager now has very little say in things and the restaurant has been turned into a Costa! Needless to say my pictures were removed but they are still on display in another public area. The images I submitted to my manager for him to select what he wanted for the restaurant, were on his company computer I guess and I imagine that this is where head office got them from.
I know VERY little about the law. However, it sounds to me like you have a right to feel aggrieved, although this could be quite a difficult one to sort out as you work for them. Before venturing down the legal route and potentially getting out of pocket that ere are a few options worth eliminating: a lot of companies these days have within their HR systems a grievance procedure. Contacting HR (Human Resources) may allow you to access to this procedure. Are you in a union? If so, can they advise? Ultimately, you are likely to need the help of a solicitor.
As a further thought. Images of attractions such as that you work for often only allow photography for private use. Is there a potential for you to be left open to a counter claim should you decide to push this? e.g. have you being selling the images?
I am no expert and has been said, you have a right to feel aggrieved, but I would suspect that the question of intellectual property will crop up and the small print in your contract may say that any shots produced, whether in your own time or not, of your companies' property remain the property of your employer. There appears to be no evidence of how the company came by the shots other than you allowed them to be used in the past. If there is nothing in writing about limitations on use I suspect that you may be on tricky ground and may have to put this one down to experience.
Either way are you ready for the aggravation, possible expense and at some point in the future being first choice for redundancy, all of which your company will be counting on you taking into consideration. It could be an expensive way to make a point as your company clearly believe that they own the intellectual property rights.
sherlob - just PM'd you.
MalcolmS, thanks for replying and helping. None of the pictures in question are of the companies' property, or anything related to it. They are all wildlife pictures taken in the area in my own time.
Under UK copyright law, in general, the rights in pictures taking during the course of employment belong to the employer. Can the company use this arguement? You'll need to read the small print in the contract.
Back in the 1950s, my father's favourite photographic activity was "kitchen-sink" chemistry and his dabblings with gum bichromate led him to invent the first workable process for making printed circuit boards. His contract of employment as an engineer stated that all "inventions" were company property, whether invented in "firm's time" or "own time". His reward was a very modest "patent bonus".
In some parts of the country, jobs are becoming so scarce that unscrupulous employers feel the have carte blanch to do what they like to their staff.
Quote: None of the pictures in question are of the companies' property, or anything related to it. They are all wildlife pictures taken in the area in my own time.
Ah. That is different. I think we were all assuming that they were pictures taken of, of within, the employer's property or during their time.
But, as you now explain it, no doubt that the copyright is yours.
Whether you want to press the point or not will depend entirely upon how much you think the images are worth (bear in mind that excellent royalty-free wildlife images are available for, literally, pennies on a host of image libraries) and whether you think that winning your point in principle is worth prejudicing your job for.
Only you can decide that. But do bear in mind that no-one ever said that the world was fair.
Don't let the b******s get away with it. They offered you £250 for your images, which you turned down. So, they have already accepted that you should be paid. Go to a solicitor, get their advice and if they say you have a case, go after them. Tell the solicitor how much you expect for your work, plus the new tickets with your work on. If they refuse, sue them for copyright theft. If they get rid of you, then you have them for constructive dismissal. Your company has not got a leg to stand on, so go for it.
Quote: If they get rid of you, then you have them for constructive dismissal. Your company has not got a leg to stand on, so go for it
I admire the spirit, but sadly waiting for an unfair dismal case is a) a gamble, and b) it won't pay the mortgage whilst you wait for it to go through. Just a thought.
Remember if you go down the legal route - its not what you can claim, but what you can prove. E.g. can you actually prove the images were NOT taken on the companies property, or in their time, or using any of their resources?
Simple answer sherlob - yes, yes and errr yes! Tnx for the PM!
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