Getty Images, the stock photography agency, has won another litigation dispute over unauthorised use of one of its digital images.

Getty successfully sued AJ Coles, a London-based removal company, for £2000 after Coles used an image exclusively licensed by Larry Williams to Getty called 'Mother with daughter (6-8) looking at each other and smiling' on its commercial website without having obtained a license to do so.

Despite Coles removing the photograph from its site on notification by Getty of the unlawful use, Getty continued to demand a royalty payment from Coles for use of the image up to the date of its renewal, however Coles refused to make the payments. The court action has now resulted in damages plus costs and interest of £1953.31 being awarded to Getty, which is more than three times the cost of buying a 5-year license to use the photograph. Getty also claimed additional damages on the grounds that infringement makes it more difficult for the agency to obtain and exploit its rights to images, but these were not awarded by the court; nor did the court award costs to pay for the image tracking process, carried out on Getty's behalf by the copyright solutions firm PicScout.

Getty utilises specialist software to "track" unlawful use of its images by website operators and are well known for enforcing their right to receive unpaid royalty payments (along with damages, costs and interest). It is very easy to unwittingly use one of its images, as they often come up in a simple internet search. With that in mind, it would be wise to check that the images you use in your website are not copyright-protected, or, if they are protected, that you have obtained the correct licenses to use them. Even where a web developer has created your website, you should always ensure that the developer has obtained the necessary licenses on your behalf.