A Wikipedia volunteer accused of breaching copyright by uploading photos of paintings held at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has responded to the gallery ahead of the deadline set for legal action.

Last week the gallery said it was ‘very concerned’ at the potential loss of licensing income from ‘high-resolution’ files that it claims were taken from its website without permission by Wikipedia administrator Derrick Coetzee.

Though the gallery declined to reveal contents of Coetzee’s response – issued through a lawyer’s letter – an NPG spokeswoman confirmed that it received it before the gallery’s deadline of 5pm yesterday.

In a statement, issued at 1.40pm on 21 July, the NPG told Amateur Photographer: ‘We are pleased to announce that on Monday 20 July we received correspondence from D Coetzee’s lawyer.

‘We wish to give this due consideration before commenting further. The Gallery will make a further announcement in due course once the situation is clearer.’

The lawyer’s response followed a threat of legal action by the NPG which had demanded that the high-resolution images be ‘permanently’ removed from the Wikipedia website.

The demands, issued through the gallery’s lawyer Farrer & Co, included an undertaking to ‘refrain in the future from circumventing the technical measures that our client uses to protect its copyright work.’

Picture: Portrait of Julia-Margaret Cameron © National Portrait Gallery