Copyright Suit Helps British Photographer Win $32,000, He Was Initially Offered $250


British photographer Jason Sheldon has won a settlement of £20,000 (about $32,300 US) over a stolen image of his (seen above), after initially being offered less than one percent of that.

The dispute centered around a backstage photo Sheldon captured in July of 2011 of pop star Ke$sha partying with rap duo LMFAO. Daybrook House Promotions grabbed the image and used it in an ad last year for a Nottingham nightclub, reasoning that since the picture had been posted on Tumblr, it must be free to reuse at will.

Sheldon tried to explain that copyright doesn’t work that way and sent the company an invoice for £1,351 ($2,200). In response, Daybrook said they never would have used the image if they had realized it was not free to use, and therefore would pay him only £150 ($242).


Instead of accepting that paltry offer, Sheldon decided to take the case to court, and after several rounds of preliminary judgments that went the photographer’s way, Daybrook agreed to an out-of-court settlement of £20,000.

UK media lawyer Charles Swan told Amateur Photographer he hopes the hefty settlement sends a message to media outlets ignorant or dismissive of copyright law.

“The case shows how persistence can pay off for photographers when it comes to enforcing copyright,” said Swan, “and how expensive it can be for infringers if they don’t quickly settle out of court for a reasonable amount.”

(via Amateur Photographer)

Image credits: Header photo by Jason Sheldon/Junction10 Photography and Keep Calm and Report Art Theft by cypher-neo

  • bbear

    Can you name the countries, apart from the United States, that have a copyright registration service? It isn’t a hard question, and you keep implying that other countries have a process in place, but you haven’t provided any evidence that they do.

    Registration is a US only thing. Let me know when you are ready to acknowledge that.

  • bob cooley

    Replying with an Ad Ignorantiam fallacy isn’t a valid argument; You could simply do the research yourself, but off the top of my head, a few countries that have processes to register your copyright (again, not compulsory), that will help you in litigation (typically thorough establishing a prima facie claim, establishing ownership and/or gaining statutory damages): France, Japan, China, Canada, India, Mexico – there are plenty of others. Feel free to follow the links on the WIPO site and educate yourself.

    So enough already – time for you to go troll someone else.

  • RMcL

    That isn’t actually correct – but all it does do is help speed the process through the court / make the plaintiffs lawyer tell their client to bend over faster.

  • BillDavisisARealConservative

    And the real winners here are the lawyers.

  • bob cooley

    Sorry, not being argumentative, but it is correct- check the FAQ at the US govs copyright site: or Circular 1 for more in-depth info:

  • Matt Johnson

    and why you should track your image collection online!

    Image Witness

  • Friend of Arts

    Keep an eye on G1’s portfolio of clubs and their promo materials. They could not care less about copyright and ownership. (I was working there in the past.)

  • Friend of Arts

    By G1 I mean that Group from Glasgow ;)

  • bob

    “a nottingham nightclub”; they probably don’t make 20k in a year. greedy photographer manipulating the law in an greedy litiginous suspicous world. gross. and the image is crap anyway. the music industry is full of backstabbers and the photographer is swimming with sharks

  • Tzctplus -

    Show us the law where the word “theft” or the implication that something has been “stolen” is written.

    The first monarchs that granted the right to copy realized immediately that this right was a completely artificial construct, because there is no possible way in which you can protect something to be copied, copying being the natural state of things and how humanity advance to a higher degree of cultural development, and instead of adapting normal rules that apply to the theft of physical objects they started what would become a completely different body of law.

    The success of IP propagandists (like record labels, movie studios, broadcasters, and to a lesser degree, book publishers) has been to plant in the mind of people the mistaken idea that copying something is stealing that something, when the simplest of logics demonstrates that the original generator of the item copied still has the item on his possession, so he hasn’t been deprived from anything.

    His legal rights have been violated all right, but even this has always been a moving target subject to interpretation (in Communist countries copyright didn’t exist but theft sure as hell did and was punished accordingly, and in our own countries the terms have moved from fairy reasonable to wholly unacceptable).

    So to summarize, the law has never seen copyright infringement as theft, you are pulling that interpretation out of thin air just to fit your prejudices and preconceptions, most likely based in the biased interpretation you have been served all your life by the people that most benefit from such demonstrably untrue assumption.

  • Tzctplus -

    I am not splitting hairs. I am referring to the law as it is applied in most localities.
    The day you have to defend your copyright and start a legal argument by saying that somebody robbed you nobody is going to take you seriously.

  • Jordan Butters

    ‘Manipulating the law’? More like sticking to the law.

    Clearly, as reading isn’t your strong point, I’d add that the photographer took Daybrook to court, not the nightclub. According to company check, last year DHP were worth ‘cash at bank’ of £2,353,000, ‘liabilities’ worth £2,746,000, ‘net worth’ of £4,372,000 and ‘assets’ worth £2,894,00.

    £20k seems a fair sum.

  • afakeplasticman

    well, gee, the day i start a legal argument is the day i become a real lawyer. we’re on the internets here, and we have license to stretch the meaning of english words. don’t be such a hardass.

  • BrokenPencil

    Thankfully it wasn’t posted on the other social site. Tumbler is actually pretty good with images posted to it :)

  • Aviapics

    In France we have a special rule for the media who doesn’t know the owner of a photo. It’s named DR (Droits Reservés – Reserved Right). So you just put DR under a picture and if nobody comes to tell you “it’s mine, you have to pay for it” it’s absolutely legal to use pictures you find on the net. You just have to explain you didn’t find the owner…
    It’s a pure scandal!

  • MC

    I live in Canada, and if I want to, I can register copyrights at CIPO. As Bob has tried to explain to you with a lot more patience I would have after a while, registration is not required but it will cost you a lot less to register than pay your attorney to prove you are the author and own the copyrights. But then, maybe you’re an attorney and enjoy being paid by ignorant authors!

    If you still don’t understand and believe that only US allows registration, here is something from the CIPO website:

    Although copyright in a work exists automatically when an original work is created, a certificate of registration is evidence that your creation is protected by copyright and that you, the person registered, are the owner. It can be used in court as evidence of ownership.

  • Katie Cawood

    I had one of my photos stolen by a company in Chile. It’s being used on their website and in promos. They took a photo of a child that I took and they are using it in articles about child abuse. It’s actually kind of disturbing.

    I haven’t decided how to proceed. I’m a PPA member, so I guess I should start there? Any advice would be much appreciated.