Royal Opera House threatens to sue blogger over photo row

The Royal Opera House (ROH) has threatened legal action against a blogsite after it posted pictures of the ROH building on its website.

The ROH head of legal and business affairs George Avory demanded that the pictures be removed from the website Intermezzo because use of the images allegedly infringed ROH copyright.

In an email exchange between the blogger and ROH, which has now been posted on the Intermezzo website, Avory warned that the blogger’s ROH membership would be withdrawn if the images were not removed, adding that lawyers would be instructed to pursue him for damages.

On Wednesday (8 September) Avory told the blogger that since he had failed to respond to previous legal letters, “we will therefore instruct external consul (sic) to commence proceedings immediately for full damages and associated legal costs caused by the unauthorised reproduction by you of Royal Opera House property”.

On Thursday the blogger said he would be happy to make any changes appropriate but also highlighted the fact that the website makes no financial gain from the 100,000 visits it receives a month but does promote the ROH.

The blogger added: “It follows that the use of Royal Opera House images on the site does not damage the Royal Opera House but actually assists it in achieving its financial and charitable objectives – in essence, ’free advertising’.

“Paying external lawyers from public funding to pursue a lone blogger would undoubtedly have the opposite effect, with the additional risk of reputational damage.”

The blogger was given until 6pm this evening (10 September) to remove the pictures, which he has now done.

In a statement the ROH said: “The Royal Opera House doesn’t have any interest in interfering with personal blogs. However, we’re duty bound to ensure that our intellectual property rights are not distributed without authorisation.  Furthermore, we’re contractually bound to protect the copywrite [sic] of artists and allowing websites to use these images would be in direct violation of this contract.”