Student newspaper may go down due to photo damages claim

The Groninger Studentenkrant has already had a tough year, with a one-person board and only a quarter of its usual income, and now it has received a damages claim of nearly 2000 euros.

1934 euros for the unauthorised use of six ANP photos, to be paid immediately. When Luna Hollander, chairman of the Studentenkrant, received an email from the company Visual Rights Group two weeks ago, her heart sank.

The photos in question were used years ago, she says. ‘The first photos without a licence date back to 2016, a few from 2019, and one from 2020.’


She doesn’t know exactly where it went wrong. ‘That was under a different editorial team, so I can no longer trace exactly how this happened. But to see how their mistakes can undo all my hard work, as well as the hard work of all our volunteers, is hugely disappointing.’

She contacted the Visual Rights Group, a Belgian company that scans the internet on behalf of Dutch press agency ANP for illegally used photos. ‘We asked them for a payment extension or to allow us to pay the amount in instalments.’

That wasn’t possible, but the amount was reduced – ‘as an exceptional measure’ – to 1409 euros. The payment is now due July 8.

Zero profit

For the Studentenkrant, consisting of about twenty volunteers who write primarily for their enjoyment, that is still an enormous amount. ‘We’re a student organisation and currently make zero profit’, says Hollander. Their income comes from board grants from the UG: usually about three thousand euros per year.

But this year, it is even lower. ‘Just before we could receive the normal grant, two board members resigned’, says Hollander. As a result, the Studentenkrant received only about seven hundred euros this year. Moreover, she also formed the entire board by herself.

‘It has been a tough year for the organisation, but also for me personally’, says Hollander. The Studentenkrant also started with only five editors. ‘Straightening everything out and finding a new board was just a lot of work.’

Not enough

The remaining board grant is far from enough to pay the damages. ‘We just don’t have the money to pay this all at once. Moreover, we wouldn’t be able to keep the website running and would have no budget for promotion. We would just not be able to continue existing.’

The timing is unfortunate, not only due to the board issues, says Hollander. ‘We have just started renewing our website. As part of that, we want to check all the photos.’

It would mean that the issues with copyright would be definitively resolved: they have not used stock photos requiring licences for a while now. Instead, they use their own photographers.


To be able to pay the claim, the Studentenkrant has set up a crowdfunding campaign. ‘Maybe other organisations will be generous. We have many plans for next year, including a podcast and a blog. And we have been around since 1984. It would be a shame if we had to stop now because of a fine like this.’


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