Virtuoso Legal secure settlement in claims against The Sunday Times and MailOnline for leading photographer

Virtuoso Legal triumph over the Sunday Times and Mail Online with copyright settlement
BREAKING NEWS: Media giants The Sunday Times and MailOnline not immune to copyright claims for the unauthorised use of images

At Virtuoso Legal we pride ourselves on the level of support and advice we provide to small businesses squaring up to commercial heavyweights. Our client, Scott, a professional photographer with over 30 years’ experience found himself in a legal dispute with two of the nation’s largest publications after they used his photographs without permission.


Scott Collier was the preferred photographer at London’s exclusive Cavalry and Guards Club for ten years. This role saw him photograph the great and the good of London society, including members of the Royal Family.   This all changed when photographs, which Scott took at a private event at the Club, appeared on MailOnline’s website and in The Sunday Times’ paper and online edition.

The photographs appeared without Scott’s permission and were accompanied by less than favourable headlines regarding the event and its attendees. Scott only discovered that the photographs had been used when he opened his weekend paper one Sunday in March. The next day he was informed that he would no longer be the preferred photographer for his client. Through no fault of his own, Scott’s reputation was on the line and he contacted Virtuoso Legal to act on his behalf.

Copyright Law

Scott’s photographs were protected under UK copyright law as an original artistic work, under section 3(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the Act).

As the creator of the photographs, Scott had the right to prevent the unauthorised copying of his works.

In reproducing the copyrighted work, without acquiring the relevant permission to do so from Scott, The Sunday Times and MailOnline were committing a primary act of copyright infringement under section 16 of the Act.

Settlement v. Litigation

In compliance with Pre-Action Protocol, a Letter Before Claim was dispatched to both publications. Neither paper recognised the damage which had been caused to Scott as a result of their acts. Accordingly, draft claim forms were issued to both papers as an indication of just how seriously their copyright infringement was being taken.

We ensure that our clients are aware of the benefits and drawbacks of taking their case to court.

The expense and time spent on pursuing a claim must be weighed up against each client’s needs, objectives and commercial aims. In this case, through well drafted correspondence and legal arguments, we were able to secure settlements for Scott with both papers, including a contribution to his legal costs and a payment recognising the damage which had been caused.

Final Thoughts: Copyright Holders up against The Sunday Times and MailOnline

This case is a reminder to all small business owners, freelance artists and independent photographers that they are entitled to enforce their right to protect their work under copyright laws.

A publication’s size, financial resources and in-house legal team do not mean that they can escape their legal responsibility to obtain the proper permissions from a work’s creator before going to press.

On the result, Scott noted:

Throughout the case Gemma and Phillip communicated with me clearly, frequently and explained thoroughly the thinking behind their recommendations.

They provided me with expertise that was outside of my knowledge and through that alone could demonstrate value for money in therms of their fees.

Would I call them again? Absolutely.

Scott Collier

We are delighted for Scott, and look forward to continuing to support him in his future endeavours.

To speak to our intellectual property specialists about this case, or an issue that you’re facing, please use the form below, or call:

0113 237 9900

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