A deputy district judge has summarily dismissed a claim against this website and Exaro News claiming over £80,000 for publishing two pictures to illustrate the activities of a former Met Police photographer who ran an agency that publicly offered to pay thousands of pounds to public officials for stories on celebrities.
The court findings and background to the story is published on the Exaro website today
The case was brought by Newspics Ltd, the company owned by Matt Sprake, an ex police photographer who works for a number of national newspapers.
For bloggers the ruling by district court judge Stuart Quin at Milton Keynes County Court is interesting since he accepted the case brought by Exaro’s lawyers.Vertex Law,who argued that publication of the pictures amounted to what is called “fair dealing.”
This allows copyright to be waived whoever owns it if the pictures are used to illustrate a story and can be seen to be relevant to the story and in the public interest. This could be significant for bloggers who want to illustrate public figures in a story which is a matter of public interest whoever owns the copyright.
Mr Sprake who denies paying anybody was also summoned by Lord Leveson to give evidence to his inquiry into the press use of undercover work and invasion of privacy.
Mr Sprake claimed Exaro and this website had obtained the pictures from private sources. Exaro argued that this was not the case as the pictures were in the public domain.
The original story is on the Exaro website and on this blog. The pictures which showed Mr Sprake dressed in full photographer’s gear after the bombing in Canary Wharf in 1996 and sitting in the PM’s chair in the Cabinet Room at Number Ten Downing Street were used to illustrate his claims on his website. This said NewsPics advertised a menu of services under the label “surveillance photography”, claiming: “You can utilise the very same skills that are used by the security services and the police.”
UPDATE:October 25 Milton Keynes County Court have now awarded default costs against Newspics, the company owned by Matt Sprake and his wife, for £23,599.39 so Exaro News and myself can recover legal costs. He has 14 days to pay.