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All too often I hear about people taking photos from their website for a Google Image search.

Everything out there was created by someone, and they might not want you using it! I’ve even heard of people saying “well it didn’t say not to†and that’s their rationalisation for – effectively – stealing.

Well now, according to a report by Amatuer Photographer magazine, it’s going to be all the easier for photographers to take you to court over using their images.

Photographers can now use the “small claims track†in the Patents County Court (PCC). Whereas previously a photographer wishing to follow up on a breach of copyright would have had to have instructed a solicitor, they can now start the ball rolling themselves for claims up to £5,000. (It’s suspected this might rise of £10,000 next year.)

In the past photographers may have been put off by the lengthy process of legal action, or the threat of having to pay the legal fees for the other side if they lost. But in the small claims track, you don’t pay the winner’s fees – fees are capped at £260. Other costs include £90 per day, paid by the losing party, for the loss of earnings of each party or witness attending a hearing (which could still sting, but I get the impression these cases don’t last very long – a judge may even decide it can all be decided on paper without a hearing at all) and a “small claims†fee of up to £120.