Microsoft has apologised to photographers whose images had been used in an online competition without their permission.

The Iconic Britain competition, which sees the public finding and voting on photographs that sum up what Britain is all about, lost its sponsorship from Nikon yesterday, after it was found that images were appearing in the competition without any accreditation to the original photographer.

However, as of today, all images that photographers have requested to be removed have been taken down and will not be entered into the competition.

A Microsoft spokesperson got in contact with Photography Press and said: "At Microsoft we take copyright very seriously and endeavour to provide all users of our products with guidance on respecting copyright. However, in this instance, we have been informed by a number of photographers that they object to their images being submitted by users and displayed through the competition mechanism and that consequently they would like their images to be removed from the competition.

We have removed all images that have been reported to us and these will not be used again within the competition."

Further to this, Microsoft has also thanked Pro-Imaging which was one of the first website to question Microsoft on the competition. A statement read:

We are grateful to Pro-Imaging for raising its concerns about the use of photographers' works on the Iconic Britain website. Although this was only a short marketing programme, it’s always very important to Microsoft that we respect the intellectual property rights of others. We apologise that we have not lived up to our ordinarily high standards.

We have since taken steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition."

Pro-Imaging has responded, thanking Microsoft for the statement and urging them to continue to adopt best practices in any similar photo competitions.

The final 100 entries are currently being chosen, due for a reveal at the end of August, from which the winner will be chosen.