Case Studies

A photographer discovers her photos are being sold online without permission

Wings © Carmel Metcalf 2019

Carmel Metcalf, an amateur photographer based in Moonbi, NSW, approached Arts Law for help when she discovered, to her dismay, that her photos were being sold as canvas prints online without her permission. By way of background, Carmel had previously been asked by this third party if he could use her photos for non-commercial use in relation to his business. Carmel gave permission for that, subject to being credited, but certainly not for the commercial use which she discovered he was doing. It was particularly distressing when she saw that the third party was crediting himself as the creator of her work, and that changes had also been made to the colours of her work.

Carmel used Arts Law’s Document Review Service to review the unauthorised use of her works and obtain advice. Arts Law arranged for one of its pro bono Document Review Lawyers, Thomas Lynch, to advise the client. It was explained to Carmel that under copyright law her permission must be sought to use the photos in this way. It is copyright infringement to reproduce a photo, including online. (There are however exceptions where permission is not required, for example where the reproduction is a fair dealing for criticism or review or research.) Creators also have moral rights, which are the rights to be credited, not falsely credited and that their work cannot be altered/treated in certain ways.

Arts Law gave advice about sending a letter to the other side and what to include in it. Such a letter while attempting to resolve a situation can also the serve the purpose of being used as evidence in court proceedings to show that a creator has put the other side on notice of their rights.

We are thrilled to hear from our client that as a result of sending her letter, her works were removed from the website in question. In particular, as a result of our advice, Carmel felt she was able to stand up for her rights and send the letter.

“I felt empowered after being given advice by Arts Law. As a result of the advice, I knew how to handle it, I knew to write that letter and I knew what to do to stop what was happening with my work. I found Arts Law to be a wonderful service that got me out of a very distressing situation.”

Carmel Metcalf