Ian Brown picture at centre of copyright dispute

A legal battle has broken out in Manchester over pictures in an exhibition by a former photographer with the Cavendish Press agency.

Alyson Blanchard, who left the agency nine months ago, has received legal letters from the agency accusing her of breaching copyright clauses in her Cavendish contract.

At the centre of the dispute is a picture of ex-Stone Roses singer Ian Brown which is featured in Blanchard’s exhibition Photograffiti at The Arch Bar in Hulme.

Cavendish has threatened Blanchard with an injunction if she doesn’t take the picture down. The agency says she obtained press tickets to the Brown concerts via Cavendish and used its camera to take the picture which was downloaded on to its database last July.

But Blanchard claims the shot was taken in her own time after work.

Cavendish has sent Blanchard a legal letter which accused her of flagrant breach of copyright, and said it was informing the owner of the bar and city council licensing authority that the exhibition was featuring “pirated” material.

Blanchard’s solicitor has written to Cavendish disputing the copyright claims and accusing the agency of defaming her in its legal letter. She joined Cavendish last March but left in October and is now freelance.

Blanchard said: “I think they are being incredibly heavy handed. I took these shots in my own time. An agency should not be able to own you 24/7. My picture of Ian Brown is only hanging in a bar in Manchester. It is not the Tate Gallery. Why are they doing this?”

But Cavendish boss Brian Whittle told Press Gazette: “She is offering pictures for sale for between £75 and £250. The implications are there for anyone. She knew full well that in our contract of employment she had to have written permission of a director to do outside work. It is an excellent picture but it is not hers. Press tickets for the concert were obtained under the auspices of Cavendish. The picture was taken with our camera, downloaded into our database. It is like using the company car to go taxiing.”

Blanchard said she was no longer offering the exhibition pictures for sale and had removed two disputed pictures but not the shot of Brown.

By Jon Slattery

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