BBC apologises to BW reader for using copyright photos

20 April 2010

When avid Bitterwallet Chris noticed his photos were being used by the BBC website without his permission, he played nice and asked for a credit, or a reciprocal link to his own site. It seemed a very reasonable request, especially given that BBC staff had made a point of ignoring an obvious copyright notice above the images.

When the BBC told Chris they had permission, but took the images down anyway for reasons that didn't make much sense, Chris pushed them for answers. The BBC proceeded to tell Chris a series of stories that contradicted one another, and caught themselves in a lie. The truth and a small acknowledgment would have been perfectly acceptable, but instead the BBC tried to cover up the fact they had used the images without permission.

Bitterwallet - BBC aplogies for use of copyright material

Chris has now received a somewhat sheepish reply from the BBC after numerous emails to the corporation:

In response to your correspondence regarding unauthorised use of 3 images on our web-site.

Our Blast Team do not have a budget for use of stills and this was an error on their part to include your stills.

We usually pay £60 per still for On-line use by our Learning Department. Can we therefore agree a payment of £180 on this occasion.

Please let me know if this is acceptable and once again apologies for the oversight.

Chris's has turned down the amount, and fired back a reply to reiterate his concern:

There was no 'oversight' nor was there an error. If the BBC Blast team do not have a budget for stills photography then they should be very clear in their understanding of how images are licensed and managed. The only oversight appears to be in the level of training offered to staff.

Ouch. £60 per image isn't even the minimum rate set by the NUJ for editorial use online by a news organisation; not that Chris is necessarily a member of the NUJ, but he hasn't even been offered what the BBC would have paid a freelancer for agreed use.


  • BBC
    £65, final offer
  • Andrew R.
    ^ haha
  • ITV
    yeah, take them to the fucking cleaners. BBC bastards.
  • m_jack
    yeah well done for taking the moral high ground, but wheres the profit in that? Take the money and run I say
  • kev
    £180, deal or no deal?
  • darkspark88
    Just finished watching day 4 of series 24. I think we have a storyline here for day 9 :D
  • GTom
    £180 seems very generous for those 3 photographs. To be honest, I don't know why the BBC would even want to use those images.
  • Gadget 4.
    He turned down £180? Fool! Does he think he will get a better offer, or is it just "the principle"? Why be a martyr, take the money and stop pontificating about it!
  • Nobby
    Tell them £300, to cover two years of licence fee.
  • Jose
    My Gawd.... you BW people are such negative and sceptical people.
  • Jack T.
    Chris, if they pay you how can the BBC afford to send 150 people to cover the last election debate? Yes, the one hosted by ITV (who only needed 100 people for the whole thing). Please get off their gravy train and walk like the rest of us.
  • myiphoneisbroken
    This article seems unfinished - is he trying to get more money, or doing what Billy Connolly did in the Man Who Sued God?
  • ha h.
    I'm guessing BW are trying to make Chris look a wan*er by hyping £60 as not being "even the minimum" - the quote from the reply they use doesn't mention money but seems to be looking for BBC to accept they need to change their practices. As on his "about" page Chris says he'll "even work for food" I guess he'd have given permission if asked for the price of a currant bun or maybe even for free...
  • parpparp
    Yeah offering the usual fee after the fact is not really on. When American housewives get caught sharing Britney Spears CDs, they get whacked for hundreds of thousands of dollars, not the $15 or so for each disc.
  • smashingnicey
    ...except it ain't the usual fee! The fee they quote is for using a stock image that was supplied by the photographer to appear on a stock images website and is therefore charged at £60 because it can be used numerous times by numerous people! The idea being that as a photographer you accept a lower fee in anticipation that you'll get multiple orders. Again people, it ain't about whether you like the images or how much YOU would pay for them. It's simply down to the fact that they nicked em without permission and to offer the minimum fee that THEY feel they should pay is daft. BBC have been caught stealing, Chris has put on the table what he is prepared to accept. They have countered with a mediocre offer. Chris, who by the sounds of it, has nowt to lose, should decide whether to go for the £180 or pursue further. Legally, I doubt the Beeb have a leg to stand on! (and to just reiterate I am NOT a BBC hater, quite the opposite!) The really smart thing to do here would be to politely ask if instead of all the negative publicity the BBC is getting from this how about give Chris something that money can't buy - like a decent gig or some positive exposure???
  • smashingnicey
    yeah - agree with parpparp - sorry judge, can I just pay £5 each for the 100 illegal downloads instead of the £100K the movie company is slapping me with???
  • PunksatonyPhil
    As I mentioned on the original post, the BBC have agreed to pay up what I invoiced them for. £600. The same as our friend in Birmingham you'll notice... Again, all I wanted was a mention and a link on the page that my images appeared on, i care not a jot if you don't like my pics, plenty of people do, the bottom line is that the BBC liked them enough to nick them and then spent two weeks lying about it. They were caught out. And yes, I will work for food ;)
  • ha h.
    Good going PunksatonyPhil - :thumbsup:
  • Chris
    Good work Punky Chris!
  • shinkyshonky
    Chris...stick it to the go!
  • Polleetickle
    .. you should also ask the Beeb for free TV licence for at least ten years! Sock it to them.
  • hippy
    you know with the digital rights bill i think after three strikes you get cut off the internet! looks like the bbc could loose its internet services cos of this infringment! hee hee
  • PC W.
    Gary Glitter still owes me a lot of money for licensing some pix from me.
  • Bill B.
    So if I copy a load of copies of Dr Who DVDs and flog them down the market and they catch me, I can pay them £8.99 and that'll be OK?
  • Joe B.
    Take the £180 you greedy dick! Jesus christ some people, its just coming out the general public's pocket anyway. Like you would ever get paid for those images in any other instance, they have tons of pictures they can use with permission. OOOO the big bad corporation did me wrong, get over it. It's a simple human error. I'm a firm supported of the BBC, they do a fine job considering the restrictions and rules they have to abide too and any profit goes back into the corporation for the benefit of the general public, unlike SKY, ITV etc. Every decision is held to account by the BBC trust and they have to provide services to people other stations couldn't give a shit about. People soon forget or just don't understand how it actually works, if there's a finger to point blame at its the government. The BBC are certainly a damn site more moral than the other broadcasters. Have a look at the balance sheets compared to the likes of Sky. It'll be a sad sad day if the BBC was ever abolished, we'd soon be watching the 100% commercial bullshit and adverts Americans have to endure. Nobody remembers the little guy or deaf person who's weekly televised perk is to watch a sign version of antiques road show. Yes they might not be to everybody taste but then again they are restricted and forced to meet certain broadcasting criteria for the good of the public, unlike ALL the others. It was an obvious mistake so stop freaking out about it and be glad you're getting a penny. Yes the public has to pay for it so well done you must be proud. Otherwise just shut the hell up and go back to taking photos that no one wants, cares about and certainly wouldn't pay £60 for. Most photographers would jump at the chance for £180 for 3 simple stock photos. 3 seconds of button pushing. I'm sure you're one of these planks who thinks the whole world is against them and owes them greatly. If you're still not happy and it all amounts to nothing then Ill happily pay you £10 for the photo, It'll bring me great satisfaction to wipe my hefty spotty arse with it. Moron.
  • Jack T.
    Joe Bentley thinks the BBC are moral after commiting theft and lying about it. Moron.
  • James
    So they stole images, got caught stealing then offer to pay their usual fee? That seems unfair! Especially when they advertise you will be find £1000 for not paying your licence!
  • ha h.
    @Jack @James It was not theft. I'm glad to know you have never made a mistake, never b*ll-sh*tted and never viewed or copied copyrighted material without permission - or do your rules of what is right and moral only apply to other people?
  • PunksatonyPhil
    @ha di ha Yes actually, it is theft, both in terms of copyrite and intellectual property... And lets not forget, I asked for a link and a mention, that was it... (I know Mr T, I'm feeding the trolls...)
  • James
    @ Ha di ha Yes, it is theft. Unauthorised use of copyrighted material is theft. And I have viewed copyrighted material without permission - I viewed the above photos!
  • Lord L.
    It's not theft you bunch of mongoloids, it's copyright infringement, which is a civil offence rather than a criminal one. That said, you were completely in the right to pursue your claim (both legally and morally), and I'm glad you got 600 quid which seems a fair amount for the photos and use in question.
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