UK: Photographer won court case over copyright infringement

On 16 October 2009, freelance

photographer Alan Grisbrook working for MGN won court case over copyright

infringement by publisher MGN Ltd.

In 1998, Mr Grisbrook had already

attempted to sue MGN Ltd for the unlicensed use of his pictures after he

stopped working for the Daily Mirror. In 2002, they ended the dispute by

signing a Consent Order, whereby MGN undertook, amongst other things, to return

all physical copies of the images and to delete all electronic copies from

their systems. In the 2002 Consent Order, Mr Grisbrook expressly reserved his

rights to take legal action against MGN for future infringements of his


In 2008, Mr Grisbrook found that

the publisher MGN Ltd of Daily Mirror has kept the back copies of his images.

MGN Ltd had made available copies of his images  to customers through

various archives websites when Mr Grisbrook was not informed , nor compensated

for the permission of such use.

Mr Grisbrook alleged that, by

storing the images electronically and communicating them to the public, MGN Ltd. was infringing his copyright and was breaching the 2002

Consent Order.

The court found that on the facts

the licence granted by Mr Grisbrook did not allow MGN Ltd. to publish the

images on the websites becausethis form of commercial exploitation had

simply not been in the contemplation of the parties at the time the licence was

granted and because this term was not otherwise necessary. MGN Ltd had

therefore infringed Mr Grisbrook's copyright in the images.

Court judgment: