Umbrella companies and limited companies which advertise their services on the Web might do well to heed the recent warning from the Forum of Private Business: check your digital images carefully because if you don’t, you might find yourself stung by costly copyright claims.

The Forum reports a big surge in calls to its customer helpline on this specific issue after several businesses received hefty payment demands from image copyright holders. Typically, web design is outsourced by small businesses to specialist companies and until recently the presumption has been that the latter would source, upload and obtain permission to use any copyrighted pictures. However, there is no obligation on web design companies to perform this last function. Where permissions have not been secured, copyright infringement liability actually falls on the businesses who commissioned the design firms, not the latter.

Forum Chairman Phil Orford said that his organisation had received a number of calls from members who had used images from one the largest stock photography companies, Getty Images. They had all been notified by Getty that they owed money because, however unwittingly, they had used unlicensed images on their sites. He added that recent technological advances had made it both cost-effective and easy for copyright holders like Getty to track the use of their images.

The Forum advises small entrepreneurs to check with their web design company where they have sourced any images they use and request visual proof that they have obtained the necessary rights. If not and you still wish to use the images, you will need to buy these rights yourself. An unpleasant surprise in the form of a big liability bill may well await you if your overlook this step.

Our apologies to the Forum of Private Business for our previous publication error. The above advice comes from the Forum of Private Business and not the FSB as previously mentioned.

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  • Phil McCabe

    Please note: This article is incorrect. the warning about copyright was issued by the Forum of Private Business. Please see for the original story.

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