Under UK copyright law, there is a fair dealing exemption where the purpose of the infringement is for the reporting of current events, but this does not cover photographs and definitely not publishing a person’s private photographs in national newspapers to show that they take holidays on beaches like the rest of the population.
The pieces in The Sun and the Daily Mail are rather obvious smear campaigns against junior doctors for daring to disagree with government proposals that would put patient safety at risk, but they do raise a question about how the British press deal with images posted to social media.
Much of the traditional press has been very heavy handed in dealing with aggregators online, with Rupert Murdoch calling aggregation of just headlines as “theft” on various occasions. However, when it comes to appropriating other people’s content for their own use, many newspapers seem to think that it is acceptable to republish pictures from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter without permission or even credit to the photographer.
Photographs are specifically excluded from the fair dealing exemption under Section 30(2) of the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act (1988), but even if there were not specifically excluded it would be very hard to argue that a doctor’s holiday snaps had anything to do with the news at all.
Looking at the comments beneath each article, it seems the smear campaign against doctors has backfired anyway, but the doctors that have had their privacy violated and photographs stolen for nothing more than taking a well earned break in the sun, should claim the substantial damages they deserve for the copyright violation.