Three photographers had a breach of copyright claim upheld by the court, which found in their paper and ordered a newspaper to pay them a total of €1,200.
Applicants Roland Camilleri, Malcolm Bezzina and Peter Tonna told the court that they were photographers with a special interest in aviation and that their works were protected by copyright. A number of their photos were to be found on a number of internet sites including www.airliners.net and www.jetphotos.net.
But the Malta Independent on Sunday had, on two occasions in 2005 published photos taken by them in connection with articles entitled “More evidence of CIA landings in Malta surfaces” and “More CIA stopovers uncovered, government still silent”.
During this period another photograph was also published in The Malta Independent on Sunday’s internet site.
Mr Camilleri, Mr Bezzina and Mr Tonna said that the publication of their works had been carried out without their consent and without any compensation. They asked the court to find that their copyright had been violated and to award them compensation.
On his part editor Noel Grima pleaded that the photos had been downloaded from websites and that they were, therefore, in the public domain. According to Mr Grima there was no violation of copyright.
Madam Justice Anna Felice found in favour of the applicants and ruled that the fact that their photos could be accessed on a public website did not lessen their copyright in their works.
Were Mr Grima’s argument to be accepted this would mean that works of art such as paintings or sculptures exhibited in public places were not covered by copyright.
The court therefore dismissed Mr Grima’s pleas and ordered him to pay €400 each to Mr Camilleri, Mr Bezzina and Mr Tonna.
[Times of Malta, 21 October 2011]
Lawyers Marco Ciliberti and Peter Fenech appeared for plaintiffs and defendant respectively. Full text of judgment here.