Daniel Morel Awarded $1.2M in Damages in Lawsuit Against AFP and Getty Images

gavel and book close up, shallow dof

The Daniel Morel vs AFP/Getty Images saga has been going on since 2010 when the agencies first pulled his photos off of Twitter and distributed them without permission to several major publications. Now the saga has finally ended, and ended on very happy terms for Morel, who is walking away from the deal $1.2 million richer.

In case you haven’t been following this huge case, Morel scored his first win back in January when District Judge Alison Nathan of Manhattan determined that AFP and Getty did in fact infringe upon the photographer’s copyright, but that was just one battle in an ongoing war.

The question remained whether or not the two agencies willfully infringed on Morel’s copyright. The agencies argued that the use was the result of mistakes, while Morel’s attorney maintained that Getty and AFP knew what they were doing.

Morel's photograph was published on the front pages of newspapers around the world without his permission

Morel’s photograph was published on the front pages of newspapers around the world without his permission

According to Rangefinder, the final ruling came down to yesterday, leading to a “delighted” Morel and a “dumbfounded” defense. A federal jury found that the agencies did in fact act willfully and awarded Morel $1.2 million, the maximum statutory damages available under the law.

They also found Getty and AFP liable for 16 violations of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, for the amount of $400,000. To put all of that money in perspective, after the January ruling, AFP requested that the award be set at $120,000.

It’s not the $1.6 million awarded recently to Andrew Paul Leonard, but this is a landmark case that will reverberate through the photo community. As Morel’s attorney Joseph Baio explained in an email to told Reuters, “We believe that this is the first time that these defendants or any other major digital licensor of photography have been found liable for willful violations of the Copyright Act.”

Check out our previous coverage to find out more about the initial controversy and/or head over to Reuters for more details about yesterday’s ruling.

(via PDN Pulse)

Image credit: Photo illustration based on gavel by SalFalko

  • Ted

    I guess “but we’re a big company” is not a valid legal defence.

  • JulieB

    About time!

  • Adam Cross


  • J

    I just hope he gives part of that money to the victims in Haiti…

  • Patrick

    Oh sure.. how much of that money is he going to give to that family? Did he asked her if it would be ok to take a picture of her while she’s almost dying? Photographers are just bunch of cunts.

  • mattbw

    About time, too long has the big guy trod on the little guy to get rich

  • Will

    I firmly believe that all photographers should be compensated for their work, but 1.2 million for news photos seems outrageous. Perhaps this trial was more about Morel and his lawyers taking a bite out of a company with deep pockets vs. actual realistic compensation for the photos.

    AFP and Getty were wrong to infringe and they were guilty as charged. 120k is EXTREMELY generous and Morel should have accepted. 3 years worth of litigation leads me to believe that this trial became more about lawyers fees and less about principle.

  • Joe Ptarmigan

    Getty Images are extortion artists and they had this coming. Ironically they used the same defense as people make when Getty goes after Joe Citizen for infringement.