Hello! magazine in the UK is to pay an unsettled invoice plus legal costs to settle a two-year row over copyright after the case was taken up by the National Association of Press Agencies. The matter was resolved at Northampton County Court after the unnamed photo agency, a member of NAPA, used a fast-track low-cost legal service set up for members of the association with the Chester-based Law Hound. The disputed pictures of the wedding of PR millionaire Anthony Bailey to Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg in Salzburg were taken by one of the agency's own photographers and offered to Hello! as an exclusive. Law Hound media law expert Sue Edwards said: "The photo agency advised us that they had agreed to do the wedding photographs for free for the Austrian side of the family in exchange for the right to sell the photographs. The photo agency then explained that after the wedding a set of prints were given to the family -- but these were then handed over to Hello! by Mr Bailey himself, who offered them for free in exchange for an approved text being used in the magazine. "The agency's claim was that when they sent in the bill both the Hello! picture desk and the Hello! international editor refused to settle it on the grounds that they had already been given the pictures by Mr Bailey. They said they had printed the pictures in good faith and would not accept that copyright lay with the person that had taken the pictures -- effectively they had paid the wrong person for the pictures. "Mr Bailey also declined to settle the invoice and at the end of several months of debate the matter was finally passed over to us. On this basis it was a clear breach of copyright so there was no question that Hello! would have to pay." NAPA spokesman Chris Johnson said: "NAPA members are not in the business of taking our clients to court, but sometimes there is no other way. In this case Hello! simply did not accept that they had to pay the photographer for his work, and there was no other choice."
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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