On 05 January, at the height of the recent blizzards, The Independent used the Flickr API to source images tagged with 'UK Snow' to illustrate an article on the adverse conditions affecting the country. The stream of images appeared for two days.
However, among the images was one by photographer Peter Zabulis, who shared his work on the photo-sharing website under an 'All Rights Reserved' licence. Zabulis contacted The Independent's editorial director for digital, Jimmy Leach, asking for clarification on why his image was used and whether the newspaper would be paying for the use.
The email exchange, published on Flickr, shows Leach answering that The Independent didn't know it had breached the photographer's copyright. 'We took a stream from Flickr which is, as you know, a photo-sharing website. The legal assumption, therefore, is that you were not asserting your copyright in that arena. We did not take the photo from Flickr, nor present it as anything other than as it is shown there. I do not consider, therefore, that any copyright has been breached or any payment due,' Leach wrote.
Leach also added: 'I am puzzled about what you think we may have done wrong or if anything what your loss or claim would be.'
However, the Flickr API's terms and conditions specify that a publisher is 'solely responsible for making use of Flickr photos in compliance with the photo owners' requirements or restrictions,' and that All Rights Reserved images cannot be used without consent from the copyright owner.
Leach, speaking to BJP, now says that he has apologised to Zabulis 'for our errors, which were not malicious in intent.' An invoice for £100 sent by the photographer has been forwarded to the newspaper's account department for payment, Leach adds.
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