Photographer Suing Skechers for $250M for Violating Licensing Agreement

Here’s a lawsuit you might want to keep an eye on: in late 2010, photographer Richard Reinsdorf sued shoe company Skechers for violating the licensing agreement for a number of images he made for the company between 2006 and 2009. While the lawsuit itself isn’t anything unusual, the price demanded by Reinsdorf is: he wants $250 million.

The original agreement between Reinsdorf and the company stated that the images would be used for six months in North America for point of sale, magazine, and outdoor advertisements. However, the photographer later found that the photos had been used for several years and in unauthorized ways (e.g. overseas and on packaging). Skechers soon filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that they assumed control of the copyright through “alterations they performed on the images from slight modifications in models’ skin tone to the substitution of models’ body parts and the addition of substantial graphic effects.” The motion was denied.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, and how much of the massive $250,000,000 figure Reinsdorf is awarded if he ends up winning.

(via APhotoEditor)

  • Setenay Karacay

    “alterations they performed on the images from slight modifications in
    models’ skin tone to the substitution of models’ body parts and the
    addition of substantial graphic effects.” now that’s NOT a defence!

  • photoshark

    he needs to share his winnings with me lol

  • sharpie

    Hope he wins but 250million?! WTF?! 

    Surely WAY over the top. 250K would be more appropriate!

  • Dunc

    Got to question the progression of the brand when their POS photos are still relevant for years after they’re shot…

  • wickerprints

    The name of the company (and it’s clearly written in the posted image in the article) is “Skechers,” not “Sketchers.”

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks for catching that

  • denise

    When lawsuits are filed the dollar amount is usually significantly higher than what the plaintiff wants to get since the amount awarded (if they win) is typically a percentage of the original figure.

  • Christopher Cina

    Or the amount represents a warning shot across the bow for other corporations who don’t feel the licensing agreement is all that important.  If he were to win such a significant amount or even half that, wouldn’t that act to discourage other companies from doing the same?

  • ZeroSonico / djNatch

     sadly, if your contract is shady enough, that’d be a valid motion.

  • Jdlax99

    actually, federal copyright laws say that the minimum is 150K per infringement, if this had been going on for years then it could reach several millions of dollars.  Also, if they find the sketchers intentionally tried ducking the licensing agreement then a judge could award further damages.  The lawyer for sketchers needs to do his job and advise his client that they need to settle out of court fast.  If you look at past cases where companies felt they could take advantage of artists and their intellectual property, you will find that most cases never make it to trial because they are settled and sometimes for millions of dollars.  He could have asked for a billion dollars, doesn’t mean he will get it but it makes the client aware of there faults and usually a momentary value is rewarded.

  • Len Cook

    So if I retouch a photo I own it? Is that the sneaker defense?

  • newamericanclassic

    their argument is crap, but I sure as hell hope he’s willing to settle for less.

    wonder how that sort of publicity will affect his potential clients? he gets his name out, but as a litigious moneygrub.

  • Gabriel

    If he makes even 10% out of the 250mil asked, I don’t think he actually worries about new clients. 

  • Igogosh

    Other clients will stick to the agreement, the ones that are willing to play games and reap him off will steer clear or will have to follow the contract, which is around 2-5K. You decide what’s cheaper.

  • derekdj

    $250 Million is derived from the same formula trade groups like the MPAA and RIAA uses in copyright cases, when they sue file sharing grandmothers for $5 million. If it works for the big companies, it should work for individuals.

  • Waleed Alzuhair

    All the best, Reinsdorf..  Some companies act like they’re above everybody else, and that $250M is a loud enough case for some to behave.

  • Macra Studio

    What will actually happen, Is that corporations will become more and more reluctant to contract photographers and use more stock images. By being such a Prima donna about his images and asking for so much, if he wins It’ll end up being to the detriment of a lot of commercial photographers.

  • Dov Hechtman

    Nope this is an actual copyright case not the stupidity of the RIAA. Its obvious from Sketchers response they deliberately tried to get around the limitations of the sue they had contracted for. 

    Based one what his original contract was for plus all the penalties of violating somone’s copyrights multiplied by the potential revenue he would have made over those years its not an unreasonable number.If sketchers is smart they will settle fast as their potential cost to defend themselves will be in the order of that amount

  • Dov Hechtman

    interesting response and typical of the brainwashing that seems to have gone on due to the conservatism dismantling of the concept of standing up for ones rights. His clients will respect him and remember that stealing from him will cost them. 

    But its funny you would think that an individual working to secure lost income can be denigrated for doing so but a corporation doing the same is somehow laudable. 

    A better question to ask is what photographers will want to do work for Sketchers if their business practice is to rip of the people who work for them

  • Dov Hechtman

    Well thats brain dead thinking, of course not! corperations are moving to stock photography because they don’t want to pay photographers period. 

    Its got nothing to do with him suing in anyway or form what it does have to do is with the devaluation of photographers works. Thank you for spewing the conservative “don’t sue or your gonna get hurt” fear mongering garbage line thats hurt so many photographers already. Want to start claiming that none existent class action lawsuits are the reason we need tort reform or any other neo-conservative talking point responses

  • Gary Stafford

    @eb82f36fb0b2839b9885a6068eb67e06:disqus and just how much do you think a micro stock library is going to charge Skechers for that kind of usage??? It will be cheaper to hire a photographer & shoot…

  • Guest

    if Skechers offered you a large sum of money to shoot some photos, you’d turn them down? decent photogs aren’t that hard to come by, that’s just the sad truth.

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    wow, how do I follow this?  will you post an update as you learn of one? 

  • John Kantor

    I thought the $250M amount was ridiculous until I read their motion to dismiss. This company needs to be destroyed. Their CEO should be working in a 7-11 and the lawyers need to be hung.

  • Sean J Connolly

    I like the way that Skechers have already filed their own prosecution, I mean admitting they have the images, and that they thought altering them gets them out of the copyright issues. I think an out of court settlement would be the way to go.

  • Photokitty

    Yes, the photographer would have initially invoiced a higher amount for that vastly different usage and Skechers must pay what would have been charged, plus punitive damages!

  • Ciderguy

    If an image is altered substantially from it’s original state then a second adjoining copyright is created, the first being the photographers and the second being for the artwork created by the retoucher/designer. This would, of course, have to be agreed by the owner of the first copyright so this case falls short here but there are such things as secondary copyrights. Skilled post-production artists need a way to protect their own work too you know. All those photographers who roll their eyes at this are denying the inevitable with regards the direction of digital media, how many of you have tweaked your images in a cracked copy of Photoshop or Lightroom before you had enough money to buy a version? There are infringements everywhere, just a shame this case centres around such a nasty set of images!

  • Dov Hechtman

    If sketchers offered me a large sum of money and signed my contract in regards to my ownership of copyright and their limited rights to those images then sure. If they want give me a very very large sum for all rights even better, in one case violate the rights you agreed to under contract and I will see you in court or make me super happy with a lump sum for the images and go use them till the cows come home..

    You evidently totally missed the point and tried to play on glib sound bites regarding greed and money.

  • John Sluder

    What was the follow up on this?

  • Randy

    And, it’s pronounced ‘SKECKERS’, since the ‘t’ is removed, so make sure you go around pronouncing it that way from now on, k?