I’ve been contacted a few times recently about the sharp decline in descriptive images on the events listings. A picture really helps to show what an event will be like, and people are asking why there’s been a decline in them — however, a problem has arisen over the past year.

Copyright trolls.

I’ve been walloped recently by a cluster of start-up companies that scan websites looking for photo infringements.

If I’ve made the mistake myself, then I put my hands up, guilty m’lord.

However, the vast majority of my “fines” have been because an event venue has used or supplied an image to me, and they either didn’t have permission themselves, or the license they paid for didn’t allow them to use the photo to promote their event on other websites.

As the publisher, I am held to be liable, even when the photo supplier made the mistake.

Legally, I could go back to the venue and tell them to refund the often circa £400 per incident, but most are charities, so I have been sucking up the cost as it just feels wrong to expect small charities to cover the costs they have unwittingly dumped on me, and can ill afford

However, with bills that have reached the thousands over the past few months alone, the only solution is not to use images on events unless I am convinced the venue has a license to use them. Expecting a small organisation to sign consent forms and the like for every single event listing, often where the marketing is done by a part-time person working a couple of days a week… is just not viable.

So, sorry, but I have to reduce the number of header images on events, even though I know how helpful they are.

The events will keep being listed, so you can keep finding wonderful things to do in London, just with fewer photos.

The risks are just too great.

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Elizabeth line construction site in East London

HMS Liverpool attends the Ceremony of the Constables Dues at the Tower of London

HS2 tunnel entrance next to the M25 motorway

Preview of the Horizon 22 viewing gallery

Climbing the Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral

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  1. Mr. G says:

    Use your own photos?
    I only charge news organisations for my photos and if I sell photos of say Battersea Power station I take two sets
    Left I sell to Getty, Right are mine

    • ianVisits says:

      I tend to use my own photos where possible – but for events that haven’t taken place yet, that’s difficult and if a venue is promoting an event that’s new to London, then I have to rely on their photos and I am expecting that they have copyright clearance for that.

      Which it increasingly turns out, they many times they don’t.

  2. Anders says:

    I know of other organisations, including some charities, who are increasingly having the same issue. It seems to be becoming a big problem especially as these companies are going back through a website and finding photos from years ago that you had forgotten about and thought were OK to use at the time

  3. Keith says:

    Do these copyright troll ‘fines’ (realistically invoices) have any standing legally in terms of you having to pay them?

    I’d have thought most legitimate companies would in the first instance simply make an attempt to contact you, advising that a photo infringes copyright and asking you to either remove it or pay for its use.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if quite a few of these companies/senders have no direct connection to or instructions from the original copyright owner. They may even be pure scammers, hoping to make fast money targeting those publishing material which they know is copyright protected.

    Personally I’d be inclined to not pay any fine in the first instance and simply remove the offending image. Maybe add a bit onto your about page to state that images featured are either taken by yourself or supplied by the event, and that with the later acknowledgement/source is provided below the image. The additional text probably won’t stop the copyright trolls, but may help deal with some.

  4. Brian Butterworth says:

    This is very disappointing. I’m sure that the “fines” aren’t valid under any UK law.

    Copyright infringement is a civil matter, so I’m not sure why you are being targeted by this. It doesn’t sound legit to me and I’m a professional photographer.

    But… I personally use Shutterstock from time to time: pull a pile of useful looking images for a month and them I’m covered for “other” images.

  5. Divine High Priestess of the Sacred Flame says:

    Just insert what’s been used before in these situations: just say this image is ‘allegedly’ of what is described.

  6. Moon says:

    I for one, enjoy reading your well articulated insider tips free from the need of a myriad of images. It’s a welcome break in the modern world. We could instead dicuss typography… 🙂

    • ElleS says:

      Same here. Some pictures are nice, but I’m here for the text.

      Love reading abut what’s going on and London in general as I no longer live there (born and bred) and can only visit occasionally.

  7. Richard King says:

    Everything is now ‘owned’ by big companies, land, water, radio frequencies, even the sky now occupied by sattelites and obscuring our stars. They mine your data, music, books and images for their AI generated outputs,but never pay.

  8. Cliff McMahon-Docherty says:

    The whole thing has just become shark fishing. I’m an amateur photographer but at the risk of sounding arrogant, competent and professional in my approach because its what I studied decades ago, and so I’ve had quite a few years to practice my techniques. I could register my work but this is exactly why I don’t. At the same time an innocent picture of mine that happened to include a prominent well known building get me as the photographer landed with a lawyers letter for not having obtained a property release before ‘publishing’ it online. The whole thing has just become a mess. Its made me very nervous about doing anything any more.

  9. Glyn Jones says:

    As treasurer of an association, I feel your pain as have also trusted someone when they inserted stock images on our website and have had to settle fees. Thank you again for your invaluable service (but will now take onboard your footer).

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