Unfair use of photographs must stop

Further to your coverage of the copyright battle between the BBC and
Jason Fraser (Press Gazette, 1 April), I wonder if we have reached a
point where one of the big battalions is going to put its house in
order. I write on behalf of the National Association of Press Agencies
(NAPA) to confirm we are supporting Fraser in his fight for fairness
over the use of his pictures in the television programme Tabloid Tales.

Having
read your account, the ramifications of such a verdict, should it be
allowed to stand, will only add to the mountain of problems that
photographers in the UK already have to deal with. So many
photographers are involved with copyright issues and so many are being
ripped off by the many rogue publishers that exist today.

Not so
long ago, Fraser went off the road when he joined the Express. A short
while later one of his first duties was to address a NAPA conference.

With
some solemnity he declared his feelings as to how badly freelances were
dealt with by some sections of the newspaper world and that he hoped to
rectify that. Having gone back on the road, he will no doubt be aware
that little has changed.

The fact is that a judge has decreed
this is not a breach of copyright, thus sending a huge signal that a
route has been opened where once again publishers can say: “Oh that pic
can be used without having to pay because…”

No doubt some people
will express the view about having money to fight a very expensive
campaign, but there are many who will feel this is more about trying to
stop or at least slow down the degenerate way in which some media
organisations treat freelance photographers.

People have a
perception that with everything having gone digital, it is cheap, but
it isn’t. The costs are higher than ever, as is the pressure to keep a
lid on the fees. Wouldn’t it be nice if the big boys offered the
courtesy of a phone call to say “we intend to use these pictures”
rather than doing whatever they like with property that doesn’t belong
to them?

NAPA wishes Fraser the very best of luck on this issue
and we hope that in round two there is a real dose of justice waiting
to be delivered.

Richard Lappas, photographers’ representative, National Association of Press Agencies

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