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It’s not OK to steal content, even if you’re The Daily Mail

Back when I was a proper journo, I went on a course about media law. One of the basics – the very, very basic elements – was that all pictures are copyrighted and you are likely to get sued if you just grab one and use it. For photographers, pictures are their living and they don’t take kindly to having them taken without paying.

When untrained individuals grab an image, that’s understandable. Copyright law is not something taught in schools, and a lot of people presume that because you can right-click on a picture and "save as…" it’s ok to do so. They’re wrong, of course, but being wrong because you don’t know any better is at least understandable.

For a professional publication to do the same thing, though, isn’t just a mistake: it’s corporate theft. And that’s why The Daily Mail stealing Giles Turnbull’s photo isn’t something that should be treated lightly.

I’m hoping that Charles Arthur, who’s been (rightly) vocal about web sites stealing The Guardian’s content, will pick up on this too. After all, we’re not talking about peanuts here: the cost of buying an image like Giles’ from a picture library could be several hundred pounds.

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