James’ photos were originally uploaded via TwitPic. Later, they were republished on several other sites, including The Guardian and Times Online, initially without permission or compensation. However, The Guardian and Times both offered James retroactive compensation. The Times offered £250 for using one photo, along with a brief emailed apology for using the image without permission.
The Daily Mail, however, initially incorrectly credited the image to someone else, then removed the credit line altogether. James sent them with an invoice for £1170 — a rate set at £130 and multiplied by three per image to compensate for their lack of knowledge or permission.
The picture editor at the Daily Mail responded, saying:
Thanks for the invoice.
Unfortunately we cannot pay the amount you have requested, these images were taken from twitpic and therefore placed in the public domain, also after consultation with Twitter they have always asked us to byline images by the username of the account holder.
We are more that happy to pay for the images but we’ll only be paying £40 per image.
James, aware of the difference between TwitPic and Twitter Terms of Service, responded to the Daily Mail:
I’m afraid that you are wrong about the terms of publishing on Twitpic. If you read the terms of service you will see that copyright is clearly retained by the poster:
Third parties who wish to reproduce posted images must contact the copyright holder and seek permission.
You should have contacted me if you wanted to use the photos, as every other news outlet did. had you done so, you might have been in a position to get the photos for £40’s each.
However you didn’t contact me, even though this would have been very easy to do, nor did you inform me that you had used them. Instead, I had to uncover that you had used them, that one of them was not credited even with the correct twitter account, and that none were credited as I would have asked them to be.
James and the crew at Just Do It Films say they are still waiting for full payment and an apology.
This seems to be a similar issue that photojournalist Daniel Morel has with news agency AFP over whether images distributed over TwitPic and Twitter warrant free public distribution.