Small Claims works!
ONE OF THE FIRST cases taken by an NUJ member has been heard in the Intellectual Property and Enterprise court "small claims track" - the copyright small claims court.
Photographer and videographer Dennis Jackson was successful in pursuing a defendant for damages for copyright infringement and an order for the material to be taken down.
A small amount of his video footage had been used without his permission or payment in the defendant's company annual report video. The defendant was not able to show any written licence or assignment of copyright, but tried to rely on an "implied licence".
The hearing was held in the full courtroom rather than the less intimidating judge's chambers. Very detailed Particulars of Claim and a carefully ordered and notated bundle of documents had been prepared and it was evident that the judge had studied this prior to the hearing. That highlights the need for claimants always to have as much detail as possible in writing for the judge to look at. The defendant provided no paperwork to the court except for their written defence.
The judge was clear that an assumption of having copyright in work is no defence. Nor could the defendant rely on an implied licence in this case. Freelances had a right to protect their work and to earn a living from it as well.
Dennis Jackson then had to show the judge that the damages he was seeking were acceptable, which he did by showing examples of previous licensing fees and current commercial video licencing rates. Mr Jackson was awarded the full damages, the court costs, and statutory late payment interest dating from the infringement in 2008. The judge also ordered the footage to be removed unless agreement could be reached on a licence to continue using the material work.
- To any photographers who find themselves out and about in the vicinity of the relatively new Patents County Court Small Claims Track in Rolls Building, off Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1NL, we'd love a photo or two for the Freelance to illustrate inevitable future stories on this.