Harlot infringed moral rights

IT IS RARE that the UK courts rule on the so-called "moral rights" - your rights to be identified as author of your words or pictures, and to object to "derogatory treatment", which is use or abuse detrimental to your "honour or reputation". An exception occurred in the Patents County Court.

On 18 May Mr Recorder Douglas Campbell ruled in a case concerning a photograph of specialist latex-based couture. The plaintiff, Emma Delves-Broughton, took photographs of Amber Erlandsson in a forest, wearing a garment which was lent to her by House of Harlot Limited. The company cut out the forest background, flipped and shrank the remainder of the image and used it on its website for six months.

The court ruled that there was no licence by the photographer, and the company could not rely on standard practice for loaning such garments to models and awarded £675, based in part on the Freelance Fees Guide.

Emma Delves-Broughton also claimed for breach of her moral rights due to the manipulation of the photograph. Recorder Campbell ruled:

I am satisfied that there has been derogatory treatment, but having regard to the sum already awarded for damages and also having regard to the nature of the right in question, it seems to me that the figure must be substantially lower than this. The primary remedy for the right to object to derogatory treatment is normally injunctive, but no injunction is sought in this particular case, I infer because the use has ceased, and taking everything into account I award a sum of £50 under this head for the derogatory treatment.

The major reason for the paucity of court judgements is likely the cost of bringing cases to the Patents County Court. The Freelance awaits with interest cases in the new Small Claims track of that court.

Last modified: 07 Oct 2012 - © 2012 contributors
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