Today in the mail I received a four page document from StockFood Ltd (www.stockfood.co.uk) demanding payment for an image I used on my Blog in November 2014.
99.9% of the photographs/pictures I use on my blog are my own, taken by myself or my family, however occasionally I have used a picture from the web, usually Pinterest, to add colour or interest to a post. This image I used in 2014 came from Pinterest and no where did it have the name of the person who took the picture or any credit/copyright details on it or a link back to anywhere, so I used it. I have since removed the picture from the post and my Blog media archive.
My Blog is about quilting, our family, my day to day life and Treacle and is really a diary. I do not make money from my blog and I do not have advertisments on my blog. So I have made nothing from using this image in 2014. I have never intended to use a picture which I did not believe I could use and understand with an Open Blog that anyone can use pictures off your site, hopefully for good reasons, and that is the nature of being on the Web.
StockFood Ltd is a company which pays photographers for their pictures and then, I suspect, have some very fancy software scouring the web for their images and if you have not bought a license or credited the photographer you are then fined for its use.
Their charges are :
Standard License Fee £19.00, VAT £3.80, Post use licensing Surcharge £95.00, Surcharge for not crediting the image £19.00, Infringement Detection Fee £26.60, Infringement Collection Fee £26.60 making a total o £190.00.
If, however, you pay up within fourteen days it will only cost you £72.20. They go on in the letter to threaten you with court and fees of hundreds of pounds if you don’t settle up immediately. The letter is not signed by anyone and although their website states their hours of business are 9.00am to 5.30pm when I rang to talk to someone at 5.15pm the phone was not answered. Two emails I have also sent bounced back.
I have consulted our Government website regarding copyright and as is typical with a Government document is talks about intellectual property but does not say anything about the fact that if you cannot find out if anyone owns a picture and don’t know who to credit but use the image, you can still be liable and be fined even though you don’t know who it belongs to, as is the case here.
StockFood Ltd is a business which makes nothing but I believe makes money from fines and in my mind is morally corrupt.
I have had to forward all this to our business solicitor, which may cost me even more money and I suspect in the end the answer will be I will have to pay up. Over the last few years and since the recession things have not been too good with our business but this is not what my Blog is about, but I am heartbroken that I have caused our family needless expense over something which I feel I had no control over and was just a mistake.
I have now removed any picture not of my own from my media archive so that this does not happen again, so if you are looking at old posts and there are gaps or missing pictures I am sorry but I had to do it as I cannot afford to pay anymore money out.
As you can imagine this has left a very nasty taste in my mouth and terribly upset about the whole thing and I will now be taking a blogging break, to decide what happens next; whether I continue Blogging, something I have loved and really enjoyed doing for the past seven years or whether to delete my blog entirely.