Man who sued over Dylan Thomas copyright must pay costs of failed action

Welshman took proceedings in Ireland against entities in US and New Zealand

Welshman Haydn Price, who holds the copyright of a number of Dylan Thomas photographs, was ordered by a judge on Wednesday to pay the legal costs of four international agencies he sued for allegedly infringing his copyright online.

Price, a former BBC journalist now living at Oak Cottage, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, had failed in the District Court to successfully sue The EW Scripps Company Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio; Tribune Media Services Inc., Illinois; PG Publishing Co. Inc, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Fairfax New Zealand Limited in Wellington and Auckland.

On Wednesday he failed to overturn the decision of the District Court and Judge Jacqueline Linnane, hearing the unsuccessful appeals in the Circuit Civil Court directed that Price separately pay the legal costs of all four defendants for the hearings in both upper and lower courts.

Paul Coughlan, BL, who appeared with fellow barristers Jennifer Good and Theo Donnelly for all defendants, told the court that the District Court had dismissed the cases on the grounds that it did not have jurisdiction to deal with them.


Price’s claim in each case was that the defendants had uploaded a copyrighted image of Dylan Thomas without his permission or licence to do so. He claimed he was entitled to take proceedings in Ireland against what Mr Coughlan described as “separate entities at the other end of the earth” who had no online input to Ireland, a contention thrown out by both courts.

Judge Linnane said Mr Price’s company UK registered, Pablo Star Media Limited, was not a company incorporated in Ireland although it claimed to have branch addresses here. She said legal authority existed holding that a significant element of the alleged torts must be committed within the Irish jurisdiction for them to have a chance of succeeding.

She said Mr Coughlan, who appeared with solicitors Whitneymoore, had said the defendants were incorporated outside Ireland and had submitted that the uploading of alleged infringing material at all on their websites would have taken place either in the USA or New Zealand over which Irish courts had no jurisdiction.

“I am not satisfied that their websites targeted Ireland and in my view it has not been established that a significant element of the tort was committed within this jurisdiction,” Judge Linnane said.

She affirmed the District Court orders and dismissed the appeals before her court, awarding costs in all cases against Mr Price.

Mr Price, in actions in the Irish courts has already lost a €75,000 defamation claim against the 92-year-old widow, Gwen Watkins, from whom he bought the copyright of eight pictures of Dylan Thomas, and another case in Ireland against the Welsh government over an alleged breach of copyright in relation to photographs of Thomas and his wife, Caitlin, used in a campaign by the Welsh Tourist Board.

Price, held by Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke to be a copyright expert and the owner of Pablo Star Media, paid Gwen Watkins £1,000 (€1,330) for the eight photographs of Dylan Thomas in 2011.