Press agency and generous donors save student newspaper after damages claim (UPDATE)

A damages claim of nearly 2000 euros from the Dutch news agency ANP almost brought student newspaper Groninger Studentenkrant to its knees. However, the news agency showed leniency and waived the debt.

The editorial team had to cough up 1934 euros for the unlawful use of six ANP photos. When Luna Hollander, the chair of the newspaper, received an email from the Visual Rights Group about this two weeks ago, her heart sank.

Hollander contacted the Belgian company that scours the internet for illegally used photos on behalf of the ANP. This led to the amount being reduced to 1409 euros. But even that was beyond the editorial team’s means, threatening the end of the newspaper, which has existed since 1984.

500 euros

Meanwhile, the newspaper set up a crowdfunding campaign and the goal of 1409 euros was reached within 24 hours. One of the donors contributed no less than 500 euros. ‘That was insane’, she says. ‘These were people who worked for us years ago, and suddenly they’re giving us money.’

But in the end, the crowdfunding proved unnecessary. Freek Staps, the editor-in-chief of the ANP, who once studied history and journalism at the UG and was an editor of the Groninger Studentenkrant, saw the news about the campaign and withdrew the claim.

The ANP is covering the costs. ‘Because the photographers still need to be paid’, says Hollander. ‘That’s fantastic. We really didn’t expect this.’


‘We’re now, of course, going to refund the 1400 euros in donations’, says Hollander. ‘And we’re setting up a donation box for those who still want to contribute to us.’

Now that the newspaper doesn’t have to pay, it can look to the future again. ‘We can continue where we left off: transferring the website and checking all the existing photos.’ Additionally, there are plans for next year, including a podcast and a new blog.


She’s not sure where exactly things went wrong in the past. ‘That was under a different editorial team, so I can no longer trace how this happened. But to see how their mistakes can undo all my hard work, and that of all our volunteers, is enormously disappointing.’

The photos in question were used years ago, Hollander says. ‘The first unlicensed photos date back to 2016, a few from 2019, and one from 2020.’


For the Studentenkrant, which consists of about twenty volunteers who write primarily for fun, the damages claim was a colossal amount. ‘We are a student organisation and currently make zero euros in profit’, says Hollander. Their income comes from administrative grants from the UG: typically around three thousand euros per year.

But this year, it was even lower. ‘Just before we could get the normal grant, two board members quit’, says Hollander. As a result, the Studentenkrant only received about seven hundred euros this year. And she was also the only board member left. ‘It has been a tough year for the organisation, but also for me personally.’

However, the issues with copyright should at least be definitively resolved: they have not used stock photos requiring licences for a while now. Instead, they use their own photographers.


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