Pix withdrawn in copyright row

Freelance photographer Alyson Blanchard has agreed to remove pictures from an exhibition after legal action by her former employer, Cavendish Press, the Manchester-based news agency, alleging she had breached its copyright.

Cavendish took action over the exhibition Photograffiti at the Arch Bar in Hulme, which featured pictures of many of the city’s rock stars. Cavendish claimed that Blanchard, who left the agency nine months ago, was in breach of her contract. It said the contract forbade her from taking outside work and assigned copyright in all pictures while working for them to the agency. Cavendish also said the pictures should not have been offered for sale at the exhibition.

Blanchard claimed the pictures, which included a shot of former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown, had been taken in her own time and were her copyright. She also said she had withdrawn the pictures from sale.

But after a three-week legal battle she has agreed to remove the pictures, including the shot of singer Brown, destroy all prints and remove the digital images from her archive.

She also agreed not to offer the contested pictures for sale or commercial use in the future.

Cavendish editor Brian Whittle said: “This was an important issue for us – and many other employers. We have been beset by copyright issues in the past couple of years and this will serve as a warning to Alyson and others not to abuse the position of trust they are placed in while in our employ.

“We were ready to go to court no matter what the cost because we were not prepared to allow an act of piracy to continue.”

Blanchard said: “I think the legal action was unnecessary. I am 24 and trying to establish myself in a competitive industry. I am sad that if I want to show people some of my work in my portfolio I won’t be able to do so. If only Cavendish had been reasonable about this it wouldn’t have had to go to lawyers. The exhibition was only held in a bar. I just want to move on and get on with my career.”

by Jon Slattery

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