BBC pays up for using BW reader's photos without permission

You know the story by now; avid Bitterwallet reader Chris noticed the BBC had used his photographs on their website without permission. Chris asked for a credit or a link back to his own website, a reasonable request since BBC staff had ignored a very obvious copyright notice when purloining the images. Instead, the BBC refused to acknowledge Chris and deleted the images instead. He pushed the corporation for an explanation, caught them in a lie and consequently invoiced them for £600 for unauthorised use and copyright infringement.

That was the story last week. Yesterday, we updated you with news of the BBC trying to fob Chris off with a minimal payment. Chris refused. He's now been back in touch, and the BBC has agreed to pay his invoice in full. Below is the email trail between the two; you'll notice how the BBC hasn't got a leg to stand and drops to its knees like a Swansea hooker:

Dear Chris,

I will exceptionally agree that, due to our error, we should pay you £100 per still for the unlicensed use on our web-site.

But you must accept that there were only 3 stills - not 6.


Kathleen Magee


With all due respect, this is still unacceptable.

A photography license will refer to the single use of a single image, that license agreement does not count re-runs or minor changes, it is simply one licence for one use per image as defined by the NUJ advice for online use of images. The BBC stole three images from a third party website and each was used on two separate pages with separate web addresses and separate page content, hence six licences. That is and shall remain my bottom line.

This has been a hugely frustrating experience and this continued arrogance from the BBC is appalling. For the sake of expediency I will have to insist that this matter is resolved to my satisfaction on or before the 23rd of this month, that is this Friday. After this date I will refer the matter to the BBC Trust complaints and the small claims court.


Christopher Flack

Dear Chris,

I will arrange for payment of £600 to be forwarded to you.

Please forward you bank details as follows:

Account name/payee

Account number

sort code


Kathleen Magee

It isn't the first time the BBC has lifted photos for their use, and it probably won't be the last. Well done to Chris for sticking to his guns and getting a result.


  • m_jack
    £600, well done. Can we move on from this rather dull subject now?
  • br04dyz
    if they cancel "cash in the attic" because of this I'm coming to get you Chris!!!
  • Tom P.
    Wonder if this will be on the BBC 10 O'Clock News?
  • JonnySpandex
    Fucking hell it took them long enough!
  • Jack T.
    Well done Chris. I love an email that starts 'With all due respect'. Followed by ...the BBC are still a thieving, lying bunch of shits so pay me. Hopefully they'll sack Naughtie to cover the costs.
  • gungadin
    I think he better watch out they don't send his bank details onto the next Nigerian scam spam to come their way.
  • Mr G.
    Under the Digital "Eee, Con Me" Bill rules surely this would lead to the BBC being cut off from t'Internet every time someone made a complaint.? At our expense.
  • Gunn
    BBC has a few extra pounds now that Adrian Chiles is moving to ITV, easy money.
  • bbc p.
    £600 for those shit photos. Aye carumba
  • Joe B.
    Some peoples greed and self justifying arrogance astonishes me. Jesus christ, its just coming out the general public’s pocket anyway. Demanding £600 for a simple mistake which meant a crappy little photo was live a regional page no one views or cares about for 10 minutes, greedy bastard should be ashamed of yourself. An apology should have sufficed, I would have told you to do one. Where's peoples common sense? 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.
  • George A.
    Dear Chris, please send me your bank account details so I can forward you your monies.
  • Alexis
    Joe - it's business. Whether it's the BBC or not is irrelevant. This is the real world, and £600 for photography featured on a large website receiving thousands of hits is the going rate. Sounds like you want something for nothing - the kind of battle people in creative industries unfortunately have to tackle every day.
  • The B.
    Maybe that's why Wossy and Chiles are leaving? They've not got enough money to pay them as it'all gone on royalty cock ups? Saying that did anyone see Mark Thomas getting compo from the police for being stopped and searched for being "over-confident"? His riposte was “If over-confidence is a reason for a stop-and-search Jonathan Ross should never leave his house.”, never a truer word spoken.
  • Joe B.
    Seriously doubt the arse end of a regional specific kids website is recieving thousands of hits. And £600 isn't the going rate. £60 is. Plus the BBC will have various contracts and sources in place I.e Getty images to have as much access to an unlimited source photos as they want. The picture was removed and it was a simple error, if it was so good they would have kept it but no they can get a perfectly suitable photo for free. It's a shitty stock photo not princess dianas dying moments and greedy bastard chris is simply exploiting some poor sods simple errors. £600 is a fucking joke.
  • Nobby
    @Joe: the BBC used images without permission. Of course they should pay. £100 per image per website is about right. Photography is not just three seconds of pressing a shutter. If you steal from the BBC, or use their copyright images or videos, they will take action against you. > Yes the public has to pay for it so well done you must be proud. The public doesn't pay. License fee payers pay, not the public. There is a difference.
  • PunksatonyPhil
    Oh Joe, you reallt are an agry little man aren't you? Carry on.
  • donttouchthehair
    Joe, why are we making £600 out to be a lot of money in the broadcasting world? It isn't. I'm sure some head beeb toff will spend plenty more on a hooker tonight.
  • Nobby
    He'll spend that on a taxi with champagne to get there.
  • Shooter M.
    I don't know about £600, but Joe Bentley is a fucking joke
  • Klingelton
    Joe Bentley is the joker that stole the pictures and he's sore because he got the sack. Loser.
  • Joe B.
    Not little and not angry. Its disappointing how some idiot thinks the world owes him a favour to the sum of £600 over a simple mistake. Then gets on their high horse thinking an error over a shitty stock like picture being live for a few moments on a low traffic section of a website somehow equates to them being royally done over. Reality check needed. You should be happy for any payment offered as they can get a perfectly suitable images free, just as they use everywhere else. Hence why they can replace yours with another one without the bullshit attached. There's nothing special about your picture in this particular instance yet you push for a £600 payout. £600 is not the going rate for these types of photos, feel free to investigate you don't believe me. If you actually took 5 minutes to understand how the BBC works you'd realise where the money comes from, the public! Think what you wish about how it works and what should be paid its obvious you don't get it. Get a grip, you sniffed an opportunity to gorge yourself at the public's expense and exploit an error that should have been responded to with a simple 'sorry' or standard picture payment. Personally I would have offered you an apology and removed the photo or at best paid you £180 and kept the photo. Unfortunately the BBC being the scared little school girls they are gave in to your demands. I tell jokers like you to do one on a daily basis. You're a self righteous little chancer who should be ashamed of himself. You win at the expense of others.
  • M B.
    In most cases you can't blame Chris for trying it on and playing his cards but given the circumstance jims right this is the BBC and people have to work hard to pay for licence fees to fun chris's £600 demand. Why wasn't an apology or £180 good enough????? If it was sky it would be a diffrent story but we have to legally pay the licence fee and therefore for his own benefit I think chris has exploited this situation at the cost of the general public. It's bound to rub hard working people up the wrong way. £600 for some photos that arent even being used is excessive in anyones book especially when they are able to use free ones.MB
  • GTom
    I agree with Joe. I also think it is disgraceful that Bitterwallet are covering this so-called 'story' in this 'lets screw the BBC for what we can' way. 3 cr*ppy photos for £600? It's our money afterall (the licence payers). Which means less money for programmes and other worthwhile stuff. They offered him £180 (which was much more than the photos were worth- in my opinion), but the greedy **** tried to screw them further. Chris gains, everybody else loses. Disgraceful.
  • PunksatonyPhil
    You boys all bored over at Broadcasting House I take it? "Joe Bentley - You should be happy for any payment offered as they can get a perfectly suitable images free, just as they use everywhere else." They didn't, they went online and they stole my images. "Get a grip, you sniffed an opportunity to gorge yourself at the public’s expense and exploit an error that should have been responded to with a simple ’sorry’ or standard picture payment" Read the posts you morons, they (BBC Blast - for young people remember) lied about getting images off young people and were caught out, I asked for a credit, read that slowly, a credit and a link to my site. The BBC claimed Child Protection issues and then lied continuoulsy for two weeks trying to fob me off, all the while blaming those same hildren and young people they were so concerned about for the 'error'. "GTom - which was much more than the photos were worth- in my opinion" As I've said before, I care not a jot what you think, people do like the images, people do ask to use them and people do pay for them, more often than not, I give them away. Also, I've freely given the BBC images they liked so much they published them elswhere... The standard licence fee for a single image use is £100. Thats according to the NUJ guidelines. They used three images twice. You can count I assume?
  • SuperTed
    Its very easy to bash the BBC because they are a big corp and we have our nuts twisted to pay the licence fee but they are there for a reason and its to provide services for people the other networks wouldn't think twice about. Its hard to cater for everybody so they are never going to please everyone. People forget the BBC aren't a commercial enterprise, it doesn't have shareholders who make shit loadsa money like the other organisations or businesses. Any profits from the commercial BBC world side is ploughed back into the corp and they are held to account for 'everything' again unlike the others. All decisions are made by the BBC trust and are heavily influenced by government rules and public needs. Because of this they are run in a manner which is ethically more focused than any other broadcaster in the world. Its easy to bad mouth them if you don't totally understand how or why it works like this. in regards to this post, yes the majority of the £600 will come from the public paying licence fees and hence I can understand peoples anger with Chris. £600 is greedy considering the circumstance, maybe he should keep the £180 and donate the rest to a good cause. Shame on bitterwallet and Chris for promoting a story about how the british public has to foot the bill for someone's unjustified demands over a pathetic photo.
  • PunksatonyPhil
    Shame on me? I'd hardly think so. What is your worldy wise opinion of BBC staff lying about Children and Young people? Blaming the 'error' on them and only backing down when it was clear they were caught in a lie? Any thoughts?
  • SuperTed
    Chris, im sure you think its perfectly acceptable to accept £600 from the British publics back pocket over an issue that most people would settle after a simple apology or at most receiving the going rate of pay of £60 per image no matter how many times its used. You've exploited a simple error to your full advantage so congratulations. I'm sorry but in light of this situation not everyone agrees that your £600 demands are fair or justified, probably because we're paying for it! ;)
  • PunksatonyPhil
    You seem to be missing the point. The BBC staff lied. For two weeks. About young people. They didn't apologise until they were found out to be in a lie. Maybe I should work for free? And yes, £600 is perfectly acceptable actually.
  • SuperTed
    hahaha it's actually you that's missing the point. Dont kid yoursef that what you've done is acceptable to everyone, its not remotely justified or clever. People work hard for their money and we all don't lower ourself to your standards or have your ignorance when it comes to how the corps like the BBC are funded. Your arrogance, exploitation and blatant greed at the cost of the british tax payer has certainly caused a lot of friction and due to the response here you can see its really not reflected well on you as a person. Hell you even resorted to contacting a blog deluded to the fact everyone would think what you are doing is good, or most likely to put more pressure on the BBC to increase your chances of a payout. How sad is that. You weren't even happy when they offered you £180 for an simply error that wouldn't normally pay for and you generally wouldn't gain from. But no you had to demand more. Huff, puff and moan all you like, not everyone is impressed about what you've done, people have more sense and dignity. Next time you try to profit from a mistake try and make sure it isnt at the cost of the british public, that way you might not get such a response. There's a time a place to push your luck and this wasn't one of them. I gather you wont be donating the amount over the £180 standard charge to a good cause, figures. Enjoy your £600.
  • PunksatonyPhil
    Answer this simple questions. The BBC staff on a Child focused team lied. For two weeks. About young people. Is that okay? Should I work for free? Do you?
  • Andy D.
    If you want to contribute constructively, please stick to using one name and one name only - you know who you are. That way it doesn't look two people are ganging up on PunksatonyPhil and skewing the debate. Thanks.
  • dunfyboy
    Joe/Superted Imagine I can round to your house and nicked some of your pictures. You try to stop me and I say your wife gave me permission to take them. You check with her, she says no she didn't so I destroy the pictures. You say I'll have to pay for them and I refuse. Eventually, I cough up some money for your pictures. Now, who's in the wrong. Me for nicking them or you for trying to get compensation for the theft? So, basically, stop being twats.
  • Alexis
    Methinks the gentleman Joe doth protest too much.
  • Codify
    The guy should be grateful someone took his shitty photos and put them on national TV. My six year old could have taken a better shot with his point n click. Asking £60 let alone £600 for them is a complete joke. At least it's done with now. Hopefully he will stop his incessant whining and BW can stop re-posting his snivelling.
  • OMFG
    Can't believe there are so many idiots who think the BBC is a better option for the public. BBC cost £150 a year if you own a TV or go to jail. C4 - part funded by the TV licence, part by adverts. ITV costs you NOTHING. Sky - you choose to pay if you want to. Virgin - ditto. Codify - pass me your wallet, I need to pay my TV licence now and you think theft is OK.
  • TimB
    I don't see all the fuss here. If I take photos, I can choose what I charge for them. If I decide they're worth £100 each, per impression, that's totally my business. If I also decide I'll let you use them for free as long as you credit me, that's also my business. You can then take your pick which option you want. If you take them, publish them without credits, and don't even bother finding out how much I want for them, then that's your lookout. £600 isn't a massive amount of money in the media business. Personally, I wouldn't have paid £600 for use of those particular pictures, but its hardly extortionate considering they didn't bother to find out the price before they used them.
  • PunksatonyPhil
    TimB Had they bothered to asked they aren't the pictures I would have furnished them with...
  • Get j.
    I download all my music and videos, or listen to them on youtube, what cunt thinks I'm going to pay for something a monkey could do, take a photo.
  • smashingnicey
    well done Phil - you get what you feel is good recompense (your photos, your lookout irrespective of what anyone else thinks) and more importantly, the BBC hopefully will think twice about doing this again! Job done!
  • Clinton M.
    Why is this guy giving out his secret methods?? http://tinyurl. com/3yrh3qo

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