Photo agency loses £80k copyright claim against Exaro

A picture agency has failed in an attempt to sue investigative journalism website Exaro for breach of copyright.

According to Exaro, NewsPics, run by former police photographer Matt Sprake, was seeking £80,000 over the use of two pictures to illustrate an expose by reporter David Hencke.

Exaro reports that the claim was dismissed and a judge refused Sprake permission to appeal the decision.

NewsPics will now have to pay Exaro’s costs, estimated to be around £22,000.

The action was taken after the website, working with The Independent, claimed that the agency had offered thousands of pounds to police officers and other public officials for information on celebrities. 

The story was illustrated by two pictures of Sprake that, Exaro claimed, were in the public domain

One showed the photographer inside No. 10 and the other showed him at the scene of the IRA’s bombing in Canary Wharf in 1996. Sprake claimed he took the pictures while employed by the Metropolitan Police.

Exaro claimed that the photographs belonged to the Met but defended the case claiming “fair dealing”. It made an application for summary judgement and dismissal of the claim on these grounds.

According to Exaro, its barrister told Milton Keynes country court: “The two photographs are plainly used to illustrate criticism of the photography conducted and promoted by the claimant, the journalism to which it contributed, and the way in which the claimant was trading on Mr Sprake’s experience and connections as a former police photographer to promote this business.”

He added: “It is clear that the photographs are used in the articles in question for the genuine purpose of criticising the photography conducted and promoted by the claimant. The claimant has no real prospect of showing hr contrary.”

Sprake declined to comment..

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