Several contributors to B3ta, a British online community to which graphic designers submit satirical photographic mashups and montages, have complained over the last few months that their images have been republished in Emap's Zoo lads magazine - as well as in IPC's Nuts, the Daily Sport and Elle.
The complaints of one contributor led to Emap altering its policy on how it sourced images from the web.
Politics blogger Tim Ireland complained directly to the publisher after Zoo republished a parody he created of the London 2012 Olympics logo, he said, "without permission or payment".
"Further they've been maintaining this attitude for so long now, that it becomes less likely as each day passes that they'll be able to settle this ongoing matter amicably and/or without significant damage to their brand," Ireland wrote.
Zoo issued an apology to Mr Ireland for using his image "in error". Zoo also diverted from its usual policy of not reimbursing for image use to pay Mr Ireland as a "gesture of goodwill".
"Emap has always been careful to honour the IP rights of content originators," Zoo assistant editor Steve Nash told Journalism.co.uk.
"It has always been the policy to agree publication in advance or, where the copyright owner cannot reasonably be found in advance of publication and circumstances are such that we believe the originator would have wanted to have their image brought to the attention of a wider audience, to do the honourable thing as soon as the originator has made themselves known to us."
Mr Nash added: "Unfortunately there have been occasions in the past where people have claimed that an image was theirs and have demanded substantial payments but have failed to produce anything sufficient to back up their claims.
"We would like to keep publishing the best of the material out there - there is a lot of creative talent that could be brought to a wider audience to enjoy. But we have been stung by the claims that have been made, because it is simply not true that we steal people's work and, to stop any claims in future, we have taken a view that we will only publish images where we have contacted the creator in advance and they have consented in writing."
Multiple B3ta contributors have reported their work turning up in printed magazines, with some reporting having been offered prizes in return.
One, nicknamed Beau Do D'Or, started a public campaign against Emap, blogging the dispute, publishing phone calls from editors and creating a website, Nuts2Zoo, to raise awareness.
Emap's Heatworld website also sources content from the web and has in recent weeks republished video clips from Big Brother 8 that are embedded from YouTube.
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