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Swan Turton – Innocence Is No Defence In Photo Infringement Case

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Media and Photo law specialists Swan Turton report:
INNOCENCE IS NO DEFENCE: HOFFMAN v DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION (UK) LTD
The Patents County Court issued a much needed judgment last week on the subject of websites infringing copyright in photographs.

The defendant, a charity, used 19 of professional photographer David Hoffman’s photographs on its websites without permission. The defendant had been told by its design company that the photographs were Crown copyright and could be used, but this turned out not to be the case. The defendant refused to pay Hoffman arguing that it “had not intentionally or knowingly infringed his copyright” and “the Department of Health and their misleading web site were the cause of any infringement and not ourselves.”

As the judge (His Honour Judge Birss QC) explained, “The fact that the defendant may have thought that it had permission to use the images is not a defence to infringement … the policy of the law is that if there was in fact no permission, an infringement has occurred even if the person genuinely thought they had permission.”
Full report on the case here: Swan Turton
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