Association Executive Services

Australian Associations Targeted with Copyright Breaches

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Last year we featured a webinar regarding issues concerning copyright and the risk to associations.

This week we received calls from Associations that have been targeted for breach of copyright of Getty Images photos on their website. Getty uses a bot to trawl through websites and when they find a photo, which they claim they have a licence for copyright, they alert Dun and Bradstreet to act as their debt collectors.

Some of our member associations have received phone calls from Dun and Bradsheet with demands and invoices for alleged breaches of photo copyright. In many cases, the photos are buried within a multitude of web pages and a normal person would have to spend some time finding the offending image.

Dun and Bradstreet call the association and try to speak to the CEO of the association or business and then proceed to alert the association that a breach of copyright has occurred and then announces that the cost of the breach has been calculated to a certain figure and the owner of the website needs to pay the amount which they have calculated.  

In some cases, the photo copyright licence may be only $25.00  but the demand may be as high as $1500 or more.

Associations and other businesses are threatened with legal action if they do not pay up. Dun and Bradstreet follow up with a snap shot of the web page with the offending photo which they claim is evidence of the breach of copyright and attach an invoice for the amount they have calculated which should be paid.  From our understanding "Choice" term this process of demanding money as speculative invoicing, although not illegal is frowned upon.

 If your association or a member business receives notification from Dun and Bradstreet in regards to a breach of photo copyright from Getty Images then we suggest you request Dun and Bradstreet to provide evidence of the ownership of copyright before you progress any further.  You should remove the particular photo from your website immediately until such times evidence of the owner of the copyright is provided. We also advise you seek legal advice in regards to your position and legal requirement. 

Associations and all business are at risk of breaches of copyright and in many cases these breaches are unintentional. Although we believe owners of copyright should be compensated for their work, businesses and in particular, not for profit organisations are vulnerable as many do not have the proper procedures in place to ensure to they comply with all the copyright laws. 

We recognise copyright is a very complex issue and can be a mine field. Associations need to manage risk at all levels and copyright infringement unintentional or not exposes the association and members to potential litigation. AES is working with the copyright agency to develop a series of awareness sessions and offering to members which will provide overall protection.     

This blog is for information only and our own personal opinion. We do not provide legal or financial advice and for those professional services contact our legal and financial partners.