David Bellis, 31, took his son Jacob, 3, for a walk along a public path of their hometown Prestatyn, North Wales, and stopped to take a selfie. David Bellis told that the horse was in the background and it smiled and stuck out its tongue as they took the picture.
Bellis uploaded the photo to participate in the Thomson Holiday’s ‘Made Me Smile’ competition and won a trip which would be the first one for his family. Alas, he was informed that he had no right to photograph the horse without the permission of the owner, and that the owner was contacting Thomson Holiday to complain. He also got a text message from a friend of Nicola Mitchell, who deemed his deed ‘shameful’ and claimed half of £2000 reward.
Mr. Bellis told that his son was saddened and constantly crying, asking his father if they weren’t going to attend the holiday anymore. He also didn’t get why Nicola was so angry because it is a public path that everyone uses and everyone can see the horse. Mr. Bellis told that it was quite upsetting that instead of cheering him someone thought that they were being deceived.
Mr. Bellis said they envied his prize.
He said that when he thought he had won £2,000 cash, first thought was to share with them but he changed his mind and wouldn’t give them anything at all. If they wanted anything they could come on the holiday with him but only on the condition that they would together be in the saddle of the horse.
Mrs. Mitchell who has three children and lives in the same place, purchased the horse for her daughter Katelyn, 16, three years ago. She claimed that Katelyn taught the horse to show her tongue.
She said: “It angered me to know that he claimed a £2,000 holiday prize using the photo of our horse without being allowed to do so. He had to ask for permission.”
“The amount of money won is really big and would help a family a lot. He didn’t have our consent to use the photo of our horse in a contest so I will complain to Thomson Holidays. I’m not sure about their reaction but I’ll let them know about my distaste.”
She also said: “We expected a sign of gratitude because it was Betty who won the competition.”
“I wasn’t aware that there was a contest or we also would apply and probably win because our horse always shows its tongue.”
Phillip Dunn, 67, Mrs. Mitchell’s father said that Bellis cheated for that £2,000 bill using their horse and that wasn’t a proper thing to do because Mrs. Mitchell herself could have participated in the competition and won.
Mr. Bellis’s son Jacob wanted to have a photo to display to his mother Rhian, to show her they were having a good time.
The weird events display the horse lift its head and smile eventually letting out a seeming giggle.
Mr. Bellis said: “Their field is near our home, it is even visible on the photos. My son adores horses and desired to show his mother how he was passing his time and we wanted to take a selfie with the horse eating grass behind us.”
“It was unprecedented to see the horse look up for the photo. At first it was like a half smile and then he started grinning widely. He liked the camera and enjoyed being in the spotlight.”
Mr. Bellis noticed the commercial of the contest but wouldn’t imagine that they could succeed.
“My son was extremely delighted because it was his idea and his photo. It never crossed my mind to ask them for permission to photograph the horse because the horse was fully exposed to anyone who walked that path,” he said.
Wayne Beynon who is a partner and intellectual property lawyer working at Capital Law, informed that Mrs. Mitchell has no legal ground for accusation.
“Mr. Bellis and Jacob were on a public path, they didn’t cross the border of the field, and it can’t be considered trespassing,” he said.
“The person who made the photo has the full rights on it and doesn’t need the consent of neither the horse nor its owner to take it just like the paparazzi don’t need a permission to photo famous people when they get into public.
The only problem that can arise from the point of view of intellectual property is that if Mr. Bellis had the consent of Jacob to use the photo in the competition, and as his son has earned a holiday he probably gave his permission.”
Thomson Holidays who organized the contest have the following terms and conditions: “Any photos submitted which feature people must be of you or have been taken with the permission of the subject (and if they are under 18, the permission of their parents or guardians as well) and must not infringe the copyright of any third party or any laws.
'You warrant that the photo you submit is of you or your own work and that you own the copyright for it.”
Nothing was said there about photographing animals.
A spokesman for Thomson Holidays said: “The Blue Monday contest is intended to bring miles to people on the day which is considered the worst day of the year and it is saddening to hear that it upset the owners of the horse”
“We still expect the official complaint, and we promise we’ll have an insight into it.”