Website Copyright Breach Leads to £6,300 Fine

Website Copyright Breach Leads to £6,300 Fine


Heads-up for Marketers and web agencies. If you borrow someone elses images without their permission, the fines can grow quickly, particularly when the law takes in to account additional damages which can far outweigh any compensatory damages.

In a recent case tried by Judge Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, two loft conversion companies were at odds over pictures of loft conversions taken by Absolute Lofts South West London Limited (“Absolute Lofts”), but used by Artisan Home Improvements (“Artisan”) on their website without permission. Tut tut.

In a nutshell

Judge Hacon decides this is a no brainer and Artisan (or their web developer) have clearly nicked the images and are using them to sell their loft conversions.

What wasnt so easy to decide is how much damage Absolute Lofts have suffered and how much to award them in compensation. Using the theoretical basis of “what the parties would have agreed as willing licensor and willing licensee”, they thrashed out some numbers which none of them could agree on! In the end the Judge decided that they could have been purchased as stock images for about £300.

So how do we get from £300 to £6,300? 

Lets have some more law. Enter the concept of additional damages, which,  in accordance with s.97(2) CDPA 1988 could be awarded due to a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude on the part of the defendant.

This, along with Art.13(1) Enforcement Directive, which calls for sanctions which are effective, proportionate and dissuasive leads Judge Hacon to award Absolute Lofts additional damages of £6,000. 

So What?

This case law will influence future copyright breach cases. In particular, it raises the bar of compliance to included those who not only knowingly breached, but also those who breached the law through recklessness and lack of due diligenceas to the source of copyright materials.

Want more?

For an in-depth review of the law involved, I recommend this blog post

Full transcript on BAILII