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Surge in copyright infringement claims hit UK businesses


02/06/2011

By Max Clarke

Small business owners are being urged to check the images they are using on their websites in order to guard against costly copyright claims.

The Forum of Private Business issued the warning after a noticeable increase in calls to its member helpline on the issue in recent months, with several businesses receiving letters demanding payment for unwittingly using copyrighted pictures.

Often, small businesses entrust web design companies to source and upload images to their websites, on the presumption that the design company will have secured permission to use them.

However, all too often this is not the case and liability for any copyright infringement lies with the small business, rather than the design company which developed the website.

As a result, the Forum is urging smaller businesses to check they are legally entitled to use the images on their websites in order to avoid potential claims from powerful copyright holders such as Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photography companies, which actively pursues copyright infringement involving its images.

Forum Chief Executive Phil Orford said: “We’ve received a number of calls recently from members who have been notified by Getty that they owe money because they are, however unwittingly, using unlicensed images on their websites.

“I think the digital age has blurred the boundaries of image copyright in many people’s minds and some business owners mistakenly think that because an image is freely available on the internet, it can be reused without permission.

“Additionally, many smaller businesses entrust web design companies with the whole process of registering and creating their website, and presume that their web design company will only use images they are entitled to use. However, this isn’t always the case, so I would urge business owners to check they are... continued on page two >

 

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