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Thinking of using photos or text from Google for your work or business?  Think again.

Thinking of using photos or text from Google for your work or business? Think again.

Prepared by Brian Tran | Associate Lawyer at Kingston Lawyers

On 26 February 2014, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the case of Tylor v Sevin [2014] FCCA 445 found against a travel agent who downloaded a photo of Hawaii from the internet for use on her website.

Mr Tylor, a photographer, had decided to initiate legal proceedings against Ms Sevin, a travel agent, for using his photo without obtaining permission.

Despite complaints made by Mr Tylor, Ms Sevin refused to remove his photo from her website. Even up until the proceedings, Ms Sevin remained recalcitrant, and declined to pay Mr Tylor any licence fees and kept his photo up on her website.

Perhaps Ms Sevin’s attitude reflects a general trend in the attitude of people in this digital age of ours where technological advancements – such as the internet and laptops, smartphones and tablets – have made it so easy for users to download and save images straight from the internet. Like it belongs to them at the pointing of saving the downloaded material. Yet it simply does not.

In Court, Mr Tylor claimed that Ms Sevin infringed his copyright in her use of his photo of Hawaii on her website.

To those familiar to this area, the Federal Circuit Court’s findings would not have come as a surprise.

It ordered Ms Tylor to pay USD$1,850 general damages, which to an extent reflected the licence fee she would have otherwise needed to pay in order to use Mr Sevin’s photo.

However, what was surprising was that the Court was scathing in delivering its decision awarding a staggering USD$12,500 for additional damages and USD$9,000 in legal fees where Ms Sevin had refused time and time again to comply with copyright laws.

Perhaps the findings in this case reflect a need for the legal system to step up and help deter against such common yet flagrant breaches of copyright from internet material.

So do you or your staff members ever think of taking images or text straight from the internet for use in work or business? Think again.

Some legal and practical solutions

1. Obtain permission from the copyright owner (or author)
2. Or simply pay for the copyright, for example, see
3. Otherwise be creative and use your own photos, images and/or text
4. Implement a Copyright Checklist (we can assist here)
5. If you are in business, have managers sign off on all artwork before printing and production
6. Think again.

Brian Tran presents legal updates and seminars to clients and businesses to help raise awareness about legal obligations in an effort to minimise and where possible eliminate legal risk so your business can continuing growing successfully. If you wish to arrange a time to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact Kingston Lawyers on (03) 9585 6455.

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1 Comment

  1. Default no case
    March 7, 2017

    This would have been a very different result if the matter was defended. Default judgements like these are not a test case, and the pursuer of this case understand others have called a copyright troll, which involves releasing images online with no attribution knowing will be copied then use a bot to catch the so called offenders. There is a case for deception and the crimes act may apply, as was settled in another case in NSW, as the pursuer paid costs because of a smart lawyer and his barrister who defended against the same troll.

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