A group of news agencies is set to sue a Croatian website for more than £500,000 for breach of copyright after it allegedly refused to pay for photographs.
The ten independent agencies, all members of the National Association of Press Agencies (Napa) claim that, in most cases, photographs had been lifted directly from the Mail Online with no attempt having been made to obtain a licence or pay for usage.
The agencies allege that the unnamed Croatian-language website, said to be one of the biggest in the country and a subsidiary of a large German multinational, has been lifting material wholesale from websites including the Mail and using both text and pictures, often with a picture credit included.
Lawyers acting for the agency have contacted the company requesting a settlement. If no agreement has been reached within a month, the company could be taken to court in Germany.
Copyright lawyer Philip Jakober, who is handling the case, said: “The usage of photographic material on a company's own home page for which they have not acquired permission is a clear breach of copyright.
"When however the copyright holder is even named, still without bothering to ask for any form of licence for usage, then this shows a deliberate breach which in this case in particular is shocking in its scale.
"Such brazen usage is not to be trivialized. The law is quite clear that there are ways not only to get it removed but also to get full redress.”
A Napa spokesman said it hoped to use the case to highlight the problem of copyright control to the European Union.
He said: “We want see this through to the end and use it as a test case in to show how difficult it is to get paid even when there’s a clear breach of copyright.”
Napa further said that it has taken 18 months to put material together to make the case.