I was supplied an image by a client, used it on their new website and now I’ve received a letter from the image owners solicitor asking for £900.
Does anyone know my legal position on this?
I can prove it was supplied by the client (email).
Unfortunately, you could be on the hook. Laws vary from country to country about how remedies to creative theft can be made (lawsuit, independently adjudicated, etc.), but most of the world abides by certain standards for fair use and creative rights through the Berne Convention and other treaties. If you are really interested, a short article with good references can be found here https://certificates.creativecommons.org/cccertedu/chapter/2-2-global-aspects-of-copyright/
In your case, though it seems a matter of fact already, so what do you do?
- DO NOT PAY THEM ANYTHING YET. Just because they sent you a letter you are not even compelled to answer it.
- That being said, answer them. Find out what they really want, if their first ask was for 900 they would be willing to settle for much less. That would be if you want to continue to use the image.
- If you don’t need to continue using the image then take it down. Make sure you tell them it was a mistake and inform them you have removed it. Then see what they do to follow up.
- If they persist you may want to go back and offer a lower amount. They will almost surely take some money than waste time and money pursuing legal action.
- Lastly, with regards to the customer, if they represented in any way that they could use the image then they should pay (or partly pay) for any costs you incur to get rid of the problem.
If they made no claim of rightful use then, sorry, but chalk this one up to a learning lesson. Always check the sources of images, music, sounds, videos, etc. before using them commercially.
Lastly, remember everything is a negotiation; give a lowball number and go from there.