Boots will continue to quiz customers about the origin of ?professional?-looking photographs despite earlier admitting that it was ?over-cautious? when staff refused to print pictures taken by a photography student.

The store was responding to an enquiry by Amateur Photographer magazine after it emerged that a Boots lab in Coventry had refused to print a customer?s photos because they suspected, wrongly, they were professional shots illegally downloaded from the internet.

The store had apologised to the customer in a statement released to the Daily Mail, admitting that staff had been ?over cautious?.

However in a statement since released to Amateur Photographer the high street chain indicated that will continue to take a hard line on photos that look too ?professional?.

A spokesperson told us: ?With the advent of digital photography, it has become increasingly easy for members of the public to make their own copies of photographs taken for them by a professional photographer, rather than obtaining these directly from the photographer.

?To comply with copyright law and to protect intellectual property rights, express permission has to be given by the photographer.?

The statement added: ?Photoprocessors such as ourselves need to see[k] this permission before we are able to sell any copies of the photographs. If we do this without being satisfied that the photographer has given permission, we are breaking the law.

?Customers should be aware that we will always make reasonable enquiries as to the origins of the photographs if they appear to be taken by a professional.?

Matthew Cope from the Copyright Directorate at the Intellectual Property Office told us that it is not a ?criminal? offence for a store to print an image, if it is not aware that printing would breach copyright.

?If they [the store] genuinely do not know (and don?t have any reason to believe) that the copying would infringe, then they will not be liable for criminal infringement under Section 107 [of the Copyright Act],? he said.

However, Cope said that making a copy by printing it is restricted under the Copyright Act (Section 16) and the store could be held liable under ?civil? law, even if it is not aware of the copyright situation.


Boots refuses to print student’s photos