Copyright quandary


Hi All,

Here's a situation:
A client asks to use an image in a campaign which is clearly not theirs. They ask for the image to manipulated in some way which will not disguise the image. They are advised of the situation but insist on using the image.

Who would carry the can if a legal issue came up?

I'd say them, but it's tricky since you know it's infringing copyright. So long as you have written proof (emails) that they asked you to 'alter' the image and you warned them about repercussions, I'd argue that they accept the responsibility and liability. However, knowing that you're committing infringement and doing it anyway could go against you in a claim. Plus as someone who makes a living from the creative industry, you should be passionately fighting to prevent copyright infringement, as it could happen to you one day.

I've had situations where I've been asked to do something similar to an existing website design, but with an image, it's different as you're taking something directly and altering it without permission or reimbursement to the original copyright owner.
Yeah, that's what I reckon too. However, I can't help thinking that it would ultimately bite us on the bum.
Can you contact the owner of the image and ask for the rights to use it?

That's what I'd do. I'd do my best to get the correct permissions.

Then just add on that cost at the end of the design process.
Unless they can tell you in writing that they have received the correct permissions for the use of the image (whether it be the truth or a lie), I would refuse to use the image. If not it will be your word against theirs. Copyright is not to be taken lightly, there is no point in taking the risk unless they tell you they have got permission to use the image. If it ends up being a lie, the fault will be theirs, as you'll have written proof, not just your word against theirs.
Knowing what you know, I'd argue that you were conspiring to infringe copyright if you went along with the request.