Daily Mail Used My Photos Without Permission and Without Payment

By Michael Gakuran | | Photography | 70 Comments |

The Daily Mail has a history of stealing images and only paying up if and when they are caught and pursued. A quick Google search will turn up lots of results, but here, here and here are a few. It appears as though I am the latest test subject, as their MailOnline web newspaper has decided to publish my urban exploration photos from Gunkanjima without first contacting me to ask permission and without payment. This is copyright infringement.

Update: 25th April 2012, 11.24am. After a vigorous social media campaign, the Daily Mail contacted me and agreed to pay me for use of my images as well as crediting me properly. They added a link to my website and finally paid the invoice we agreed on. See the bottom of this post for more details.

Not only that, they cut off the watermarks from the bottom of all but one photo and re-sized several, blowing them up to larger sizes which lowered the overall image quality. As a photographer, that disappoints me more than anything, as the edited images just look terrible. Indeed, one comment on the article described them to “appear to have been taken with a 2002 model of Nokia.”

The Daily Mail did have the courtesy to credit me with the images, adding their own black-box watermark with my name, although they did not link to my website or the original article which they took the images from. I also tried twice to leave a comment on the original article but as of yet it has not appeared (despite other, newer comments appearing), meaning it did not make it through their moderation process, for whatever reason…

The article is here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2126264/Hashima-aka-Gunkanjima-Photos-desolate-Battleship-Island-coast-Japan.html.

It is also being discussed here on Daily Mail’s Google Plus page, as well as here, here in Japanese.

Naturally the first thing I did was to grab a screenshot of the page and log it on Verionista which you can view here, just in case they decide to trying removing the content and running. You can see the full screenshot here. Article was re-published here. Google cache link is still not ready.

Next, I typed up an email to the editor and included my prices, based on the standards set by the National Union of Journalists. Basic rates here and for online images here. My email is as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am emailing you in regards to the article published on the Daily Mail website ‘mailonline’ entitled:

The most desolate city on Earth: Take a tour of the ghostly Battleship Island crumbling into the sea off the coast of Japan

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2126264/Hashima-aka-Gunkanjima-Photos-desolate-Battleship-Island-coast-Japan.html

I am flattered that you liked my photography and appreciate you giving me credit. I am however not pleased that you published the images without first contacting me to ask permission and without paying me for use of my work. I’m also unhappy that you cut off the watermark from the bottom of most of my images and also blew up several images, thus lowering the quality of the work.

Below is my invoice for the use of 11 images to which I own the copyright. The rates per image are as recommended by the National Union of Journalists.
Link: http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?language=en&country=UK&section=Photography&subsect=Online+use+of+photos


800px+ size: £175 x 6 images = £1,050
600px size: £130 x 5 images = £650

Preliminary total: £1,700

Doubled for unauthorised usage:

Total: £3,400



After that, I dropped the editor of the British Journal of Photography a quick line asking for any help or advice, as they seem to have covered these stories in the past.

I’m currently waiting for replies from both editors, so there will undoubtedly be updates to come.

In the meantime, I’d like to request that you share and link to this article as much as possible. In the past people have had success in getting the Daily Mail to pay for the use of photos they have used without permission, although not without quite a fight. I’ll need all the backing and support I can get to bring this issue to the attention of other media outlets and for the Daily Mail to take me seriously. It’s not just a personal issue either – this sort of thing happens to photographers all the time, and we must stand up against it and make it known that photography isn’t free to use just because it’s on the internet.

It’s completely unacceptable for a major media outlet like the Daily Mail to take photos without permission, edit them and use them commercially. Replacing my watermark with their own does not grant them free usage rights, and it says very clearly on my About page that I do not give consent for my work to be used in a commercial context without prior permission.

Well, we’ll see if they respond…

*Update 8th April 2012, 01.00am* Thank you for all the re-tweets and messages. I’m currently in contact with a lawyer and also hearing from people who have suffered similar copyright infringement at the hands of the Daily Mail. Please keep up the support by spreading the word, especially to large social media sites like HackerNews, Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon and any other media outlets. The more pressure is on the Daily Mail, the more likely they will take notice. I really appreciate the help, thank you.

Now trending in London (via Trendsmap):

*Update 8th April 2012, 03.00am*

It looks as though the Daily Mail has tried to pull the article from its website. But it’s too late. I’ve got the screenshots and the article is saved in Versionista for all to see. I shall be proceeding with my invoice as planned. Please continue spreading the word – I really appreciate it.

*Update 8th April 2012, 03.32am*

The article is back up on the Daily Mail website – perhaps they saw this post and realised I already made copies? I’ve no idea what they are doing, but please keep pressing the issue. I’m gathering information to make a small claims appeal.

*Update 8th April 2012, 04.00am*

Adding HackerNews and Reddit links discussing this article.

*Update 8th April 2012, 04.35am*

Received email from Steve at Associated Newspapers, but when I tried to reply, the email bounced. Steve, please email me from an address I can reply to. Many thanks.

DM Online Pictures

Hi Michael. I’m in receipt of a web blog regarding the use of your
images on the daily Mail Online. Could you please forward a contact
number so as to resolve the matter and any other issues arising.
Regards: Steve

*Update 8th April 2012, 04.50am*

Steve got back in touch, so hopefully we can start moving things along now and processing that invoice. Just as well I was posting this all on my website, or we might have been waiting a while before they realised I couldn’t reply to the email :).

*Update 8th April 2012, 05.50am*

Received a phone call from Paul, picture editor of the Daily Mail Online. I’m pleased to say that we had a polite conversation and he apologised for the misunderstanding. Apparently the images were posted online overnight without his full understanding. It was his impression that I had been contacted and had given permission for the Daily Mail to use my images. I had received no emails, but felt that Paul’s response was sincere. Given that he has recently taken over as Picture Editor for the Daily Mail from the original editor and was keen to try and improve the Daily Mail’s image, I was happy to give this matter the benefit of the doubt.

After some negotiation, I agreed to waive my unauthorised usage fee and settled for an undisclosed amount lower than the fees set by the NUJ. The amount I received I felt was justified for the use of the images, given that there were many images being used together as a set in single post. Quite often 2nd and 3rd images are charged at lower rates than single stand-alone images, which I had not factored into my original calculations. Paul also agreed to update the article giving proper credit to me by linking to my website (which has now been done) and also expressed interest in using other photos of mine in the future. In short, I feel that the matter was resolved in an amicable manner and pleased to see the Daily Mail taking this matter seriously.

I’d like to thank everyone on Twitter and other social media sites for their help and support. It’s now 6am in Japan and I’ve been up all night dealing with this, but the speedy response and satisfactory conclusion were no doubt due to the pressure everyone helped apply. I’m one again left in awe at the power of social media and hope to return the favour to you all in the future. I’m still awaiting payment however, and will update this post when I receive payment to finally bring this matter to a close.

Also, many thanks to Brent Martin, Solicitor Advocate who works at http://bullivant.uk.net/. He contacted me very early on and offered his advice and help voluntarily, and it made a big difference in helping me have the confidence to properly negotiate a price. Although I do not know anything about the company (indeed, the website currently has no content), his personal advice was very useful. His email is: BMartin AT bullivant DOT uk DOT net and he is on Twitter here.

*Update 12th April 2012, 09.00am*

After a bit of a drop in communications, due mostly to the UK Easter Holidays and the picture editor being away on vacation, things finally got moving again. Paul took time out on his holiday to refer to the matter to other colleagues who were working and Dan promptly took care of filing my invoice. Apparently I should be paid by Wednesday next week. Fingers crossed! Pleased to see things moving along quickly despite the initial headache. It doesn’t absolve the Daily Mail of their actions, but it does go some way to restoring faith that photographers will get paid, although only if they realise and get in touch with the paper…

Another photographer, Rob Greer, contacted me to say that he was in the exact same situation of having images taken without permission and without payment and is currently trying to get in contact with the Daily Mail to file his invoice. The Daily mail article is here (NSFW):


And his original article with photos is here:


Not the journalistic practices of old that we expect… It certainly doesn’t seem like this sort of thing is a genuine mistake at all…

*Update 21st April 2012, 02.17pm*

Looks like not two days after my photos were stolen, another photographer had the same thing happen to him. His photos were taken and he wasn’t provided with a link back to his website. This post was used by the Daily Mail to create this article. Peta Pixel also picked up the story here: http://www.petapixel.com/2012/04/20/the-daily-mail-stole-my-photos-and-i-got-paid/.

Still haven’t received payment on my own images, but the invoice will supposedly be processed very soon, by 25th April. Fingers crossed!

*Update 25th April 2012, 11.24am*

The Daily Mail finally sent the payment to my bank account today, which hopefully brings this issue to a somewhat amicable close. Throughout the episode however, I have seen numerous other accounts by photographers who have been subject to the same sort of underhanded practices. Images taken and used without consent, manipulated, watermarks removed, unpaid (etc.) This all taking place on a large, money-making corporation website is unacceptable. I sincerely hope that the Daly Mail stops these practices and starts contacting photographers to licence the use of their images in advance, paying them fair rates.

If, however, these practices continue and in the future other people have their work taken and used in the media without permission, I hope this article serves as a guide in how to go about being properly reimbursed. I urge any such people to stand strong and assert their rights. Make copies of the infringing content first, and then contact the picture editor in charge by telephone if possible, or email/letter if not. Be firm but polite in pursuing the payment you deserve, and don’t settle for fees lower than you deem acceptable – you will quite likely be offered rock-bottom rates at first. Make sure any terms agree are in writing (even an email is better than empty promises made on the phone). If all else fails, contact a lawyer to write a letter to the media outlet requesting payment along with your full invoice. If, as unlikely as it is, the issue is taken to small claim’s court, you will likely win. This guide may also be of use. Best of luck!

70 comments on “Daily Mail Used My Photos Without Permission and Without Payment
  1. Wasi Daniju says:

    Just want to say a big thank you for this post – I just found an image of mine used to illustrate a Daily Mirror article. Taken from my flickr with no word. The worst thing is it’s not even that great a picture!

    A couple friends suggested invoicing them, and this post has been really helpful in looking at how to go about that.

    Many thanks,


  2. absolutedint says:

    This theft is a disgusting outrage, and something I have come to expect from a newspaper as repulsive and abhorrent as The Daily Mail.

  3. Pawel says:

    Whom you specifically in the Daily Mail wrote an e-mail? They stole me a picture of Putin’s daughter.

  4. Hi Michael – Well done for defending your work. Glad to hear it was a satisfactory outcome, and the photo essay really is stunning too.

    I just wanted to point out though that I work for Trendsmap.com and we noticed that you have used a screenshot from our website to show that you were trending in London. We found it ironic that there was no attribution or link to Trendsmap, considering what happened to you!

    Cheers, Rob

  5. Kuroodetto says:

    Your photo’s look professional and rightly so, you should be paid if people use them.

  6. Karim says:


    Hope everything worked out good for you!

    Daly Mail recently published my pictures without giving credit to me. Anyone know know my rights in the UK? In Sweden I know I can get 100% of the deal but I don’t know my right in the UK. I wrote to http://www.nuj.org.uk/ but did not received any reply yet.

    They also said no to my text and only bought the photos. And now i can see that the whole article is based on the text I upload to the agency.

    I sold my pics through an agency and the only thing they did was to put an ugly watermark on each photo..

    The publication: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396250/Bangladesh-brick-factories–Millions-workers-face-harsh-conditions.html#comments

    Best regards,

    • Karim says:

      Hi all of you!

      Now long time after all this I just like to tell you that The Daily Mail or the agency did not compensate me for publish the images without correct credit line.

      It’s difficult when you work and sell outside your home country where you know your rights and how to get help.

      All the best,


  7. FG says:

    Hi there,
    The Sun has taken (and cropped and enlarged) a portrait I took for an OH project, and put it as sole illustration of a VERY badly written online article (spelling mistakes, un-censored comments, and ‘sensational’ writing) about a very nicely produced BBC project. Your post and links was incredibly helpful – I was notified of the photo being up there yesterday while on holidays and just emailed them tonight. I copy paste my email here. Many thanks for putting all this online, really helpful.
    Fang (the original photo was this one, by the way http://fangphotography.carbonmade.com/projects/3208573#14)

    Dear Sir, Madam,

    I am contacting you about the article entitled “Jewish historian, 88: I lived next to Adolf Hitler”
    (link to the article: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4636305/Jewish-historian-lived-next-to-Adolf-Hitler.html)

    The sole photograph used at the top of the page to illustrate the article is a portrait taken for the Oral History Project This Is My Home Now.

    I am the author and copyright owner of the said photograph.
    I am very sorry to say I have not been contacted before the image was used on your online edition and 
I have to inform you that we are looking at the following copyright infringements:

    -Unauthorised modification of copyrighted material (the image has been cropped and enlarged, which greatly affects the quality of the work)
-Unauthorised publication of copyrighted material (the copyright owner’s permission has neither been sought nor granted
    -The image was published without crediting the author and copyright owner and there was no link back to the original website
-You have added your own copyright credit line to material you do not own (right click on the image informs the reader that the image is “©2012 News Group Newspaper Ltd and its licensors”)

    As I do not wish to grant The Sun permission to use this image, and in view of the above, I would like the following actions to take place:

    -Please remove the said photograph within 48 hours of receiving the present e-mail
    -Please find below my invoice for the unauthorised usage of the image, which follows the London Freelance online guideline

    Usage fee:
616 x 446 pixels = £130
For the minimum usage time (one month) as a single photograph illustrating the online article
    Please note that this is for the usage from the time it was uploaded until the time this issue is resolved and it is taken offline – it does not grant The Sun the right to keep the image online.

    Unauthorised usage fees:

    Standard fee time each separate infringement £130 x 4 = £520

    Total invoice : £130 + £520 = £650

    Payment details:

    Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions regarding this matter.
    I am looking forward to hearing from you shortly.


  8. The Daily Mail stole one of my photos which in turn was stolen by worldwidintarweb.com to mock me. WorldWideIntarweb stole it from my flickr stream. They took the photo down after I Filed a DMCA with them. DM has yet to remove it (even the mocking comment next to the photo)
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2193399/Say-cheese–The-worlds-WORST-yearbook-photos-range-strange-scary-just-plain-hilarious.html I’m the girl with the “lazy” eye. That eye is now fake as I lost it during a medical procedure in 1990.

  9. They recently stole a photo of mine from my flickr feed. How did you contact them regarding this. I want it removed from their site per the DMCA.

  10. A_bamatra says:

    Dear Yemeni photographers, please do not underestimate your works & talent.. Watermark isn’t protecting your rights

  11. TigrouMeow says:

    One of those pictures is not from you though. And it seems you got money from it as well, right? It’s not a bit weird?

    • Gakuranman says:

      No. I invoiced the Daily Mail for use of 11 images to which I hold the copyright. There are 12 images used in the Daily Mail article and the image you are referring to was not included in my invoice.

  12. Gakuranman says:

    Glad I could share the experience!

  13. Gakuranman says:

    Much appreciated :)

  14. gizmo_key says:

    I’m sorry to say the Daily Mail brought me here– I was searching for pictures of Gunkanjima and first hit was DM.  I’m not one of their readers, I don’t care about celebrity gossip or sketchily-sourced “news” but once in awhile they post interesting, beautiful photography.  I don’t understand how a tabloid that has a print edition in its own country can’t check your ToU and contact you. I wonder if the DM ever checked with Life for recently publishing part of a set of ’60s Hells Angels photos (taken by a Life correspondent thankyouverymuch).   I’m just another tumblr user and I haven’t always been vigilant about sourcing photos.  I’m gonna start stepping up on that now, as well as taking better looks at TOUs too. 

    • Gakuranman says:

      Thanks for letting me know. I’m glad that you arrived here though, even if it wasn’t the first hit for you. What matters is that the artist gets the credit and the user knows how to contact them :).

  15. Gakuranman says:

    Good to know, thanks!

  16. Gakuranman says:

    Yes, I was a little surprised at the lack of content. My email exchange with Brent however was pleasant and he seemed well-informed on what to do.

  17. Gakuranman says:

    It seems to be the way these days :(. Glad to hear your friend got paid though!

  18. Gakuranman says:

    Perhaps I was a little too lenient. I would be interested in learning just how much major news corporations make from these advertisements however, as I was told by the Daily Mail that they hardly make enough to break even… Hmm…

  19. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks for the reply. Perhaps I was a little too lenient in this case and naive in my understanding. It is the first time it has happened and I did feel the apology sincere, especially given that the picture editor is still quite new in his position at the Daily Mail. It doesn’t make ‘mistakes’ like this acceptable however and I will be keeping a close eye on the matter. Thanks again for your help :).

  20. Gakuranman says:

    We’ll see. I haven’t actually received the payment yet, and I will of course be making sure that I do. As I mentioned, in this case I was told that a member of the team screwed up and posted the pictures without getting my consent and without the picture editor knowing. Whether it is true or not is a different matter, but since the picture editor is new in his position I decided (perhaps naively, I grant you) to give the matter the benefit of the doubt. You are absolutely right however that this sort of behaviour is not on and I’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

  21. Gakuranman says:

    Fair point. I suppose one could look at it as though I were sweet-talked into submission. As shady as the Daily Mail’s record is however, the apology did seem sincere and I prefer to try and build working relationships rather than break them, which is likely what would have happened if I had taken the legal route.

    It is possible that they came away from this feeling that they can get away with it, but it’s also possible it gave them a shock in how easy it is for bloggers and amateur photographers to rally against this sort of thing. At the very least I hope this post will inspire other photographers who have had their work used without permission to fight back for their rights.

  22. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear this happened to you as well. It’s interesting that you mention the loss of revenue that newspapers are suffering. I would be very interested to know how much revenue large papers are able to make through online advertisements to fund these sort of articles and photography.

  23. Gakuranman says:

    I appreciate the concern. I’d like to clarify however that my recommendation comes from the friendly advice and support he gave me. I know nothing of the company he works for or their professional record and am not in a position to comment on that.

  24. northwest0161 says:

    You need to move into the real world and stop making excuses for blatant IP theft. Doubling or tripling the normal rate for unauthorised use has long been professional practice. The NUJ recommends it. Why should a thief pay the normal rate? What if the photographer doesn’t want his/her photos on the Daily Mail website forever? I wouldn’t. 

    • Gakuranman says:

      Fair comment. Perhaps I was too lenient. You make a strong point about the value of the images in search engines. Only time will tell how this plays out, but I’ll have to trust that Google understands the links and source of the pictures. It may be a lesson learned the hard way though… Thanks for sharing your thoughts :).

      • northwest0161 says:

        I had a full page of text content taken by another site and Google decided that site was the more authoritative (it had one of the subject words in its domain name) and mine must be a copy. My page was dropped out of the results completely. The page was one of the most popular on my site and as a result my Adsense income (I know from Google lol) dropped. So not only was I the victim of theft, but I lost income too while the thief gained. I wrote to Google and asked the site to remove the text. That was done but I never got that lost income back.

        I’m not convinced that Google will prioritise a smaller site over a larger one. But I genuinely hope it works out well for you.

  25. Gakuranman says:

    I don’t think that’s entirely fair. The unauthorised usage fee was a penalty I was prepared to impose should the Daily Mail not get in touch and pay me properly. Despite their terrible past record, I was satisfied with the apology I got and the payment I negotiated. I certainly don’t think this sort of thing will encourage media outlets to take first and pay later, especially since they ended up paying far more than their typical prices for my photos. If anything, I hope this has been a lesson for them that bloggers and amateur photographers will not be walked all over, and it can quickly lead to huge negative PR if they try this sort of thing on.

  26. Chris Mepham says:

    Glad you managed to get them to pay up. Those photos are amongst some of my favourite of yours. That place is amazing.

    • Azriel says:

      Hi Garakur. Im happy to hear that you won at the end, but will point it that daily mail won also by getting many links and many traffic from it:). I was wondering if I can use one of your photos with low quality 50k with giving you a credit without linking back? I want to do demotivational poster.

  27. Gakuranman says:

    It’s back up now with proper credit linking to my site and also backed with the promise of payment.

  28. Victoria says:

     I wonder how many times Paul has “recently taken over as Picture Editor.” His surname isn’t given here but this page ( http://fullfact.org/leveson/hearings/120111-am ) seems to suggest that “Paul Dominic Peter Silva” has served as Picture Editor for 13 years. Did he tell you it was an opportunity to get your work seen, too?

    In any case, there’s no reason why their failure of internal process should mean you are paid less than the NUJ minimum for pictures they used without even speaking to you, especially given that the NUJ figures you’ve used are for the shortest online usage term (1 month).

    • Gakuranman says:

      It’s a different Paul. The original picture editor was Elliot Wagland. You can quite easily find his replacement in LinkedIn, which is what I did.

      It’s a fair point regarding the price I agreed to receive though. I could have pushed for more if I had wanted to go the legal route, I’m sure.

  29. Seb Beeson says:

    The mail online have there own set of fees for online usages I believe it goes £45 for the first £30 for the second £20 for the third and £10 for everyone after per article

    • Gakuranman says:

      Actually, I was told by the Mail it was £40 for the first image, £20 for the second and £10 for any images after that. Naturally that was out of the question and I asked for much more.

  30. OrientalGirl says:

    You can always guarantee Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers to be dodgy. Have shared this on my Facebook account, if only for the embarrassment of the Daily Mail and wish you the best of luck.

  31. Wade Angle says:

    I am sorry to have to say, after having read the final outcome, that you were stitched up. They must be laughing their heads off at the Mail. You should have stuck to payment of your invoice. I speak from my own experience and the experience of friends of mine, experience we have had with various publications. 

    For the Mail it will now be business as usual.

    P.S.  Dsom73 here is probably right in suggesting that your invoice was even too low to start with. Ah well.

    • Gakuranman says:

      It’s a fair point, but a photo is only worth as much as the buyer will pay. Naturally in this case since my images were used without permission, I would have been well within my rights to take them to small claims court for the amount I originally specified. However, I prefer to to and resolve things amicably and wanted to avoid litigation if possible. The amount I was promised is, I feel, reasonable, and far better than the poor rates for photographs that they charge as standard.

      I certainly don’t think they’ll be wanting to do this again in a hurry, seeing how quickly it started a social media storm. Anyone else who encounters this problem with the media in future can use this post as a reference for how to go about claiming rightful payment.

      Anyway, I appreciate your support :). Let’s just hope they stick to their word and pay me.

  32. mike says:

    A news agency did the same for me recently and paid up as soon as I saw the image (which was only by chance as someone notified me).

    I’ve added a thread about your story on the busy urban75 forums – good luck!

    Here’s an interesting background story:

  33. Regular Visitor says:

    Just an idea. The Daily Mail put up an backlink to your original article (

    Why don’t you redirect this backlink to http://gakuran.com/daily-mail-used-my-photos-without-permission-and-without-payment , so everybody who’s interested in more is goind to see the truth behind DM’s kind of “work”

  34. Xah Lee says:

    i also blogged and tweeted your article. It’d be a pleasure to see Daily Mail pay 5 or 10 times more your invoice.

  35. Legal and payment issues aside I just wanted to say that the photos are amazing!

  36. If they don’t comply. FIle a DMCA/

  37. Wade Angle says:

    Way to go. Good to see that you have taken the appropriate and correct steps, especially with your doubling the fee for unauthorised usage. Been there, done it and succeed every time.

    Having your lawyer send them a letter, should they start playing for time, which most likely they will do, is the thing to do. Prepare yourself for all kinds of explanations, such as,  “It was on our system”. Just persist, but I don’t need to tell you that.

    Unfortunately, based on my own experience and that of friends, this sort of thing is only too common nowadays. Best of luck, although you don’r really need luck.

  38. iankyddmiller says:


  39. iankyddmiller says:

    They appear to have taken it down. Keep after them the thieving B’s

  40. rongraves says:

    Unless you’re a bigoted cretin with minimal literacy skills and only a passing acquaintance with grammar and spelling, the Mail is unlikely to publish a comment. Seriously.

    Best of luck though.

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