Boston lawyer Simon Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007 when he used his cell phone to record officers making a drug arrest, and later sued the city and the officers for violating his rights. After the officers tried to having the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity, a Federal Appeals Court denied the motion last week and ruled that filming and photographing police is in fact protected by the First Amendment. They also note that the rights extend not just to professional news gatherers, but ordinary citizens as well:
[...] changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
This is great news for photographers’ rights (in the United States, at least).
Opinion No. 10-176 (via UniversalHUB via A Photo Editor)
Image credit: gavel by s_falkow
We reported yesterday that Kodak has taken defensive measures to prevent a hostile takeover for its extensive collection of digital imaging patents. One of these patents is an image previewing invention that has earned Kodak nearly $1 billion from Samsung and LG, and that’s at the center of an ongoing legal battle with Apple. With the income generated by patent lawsuits dwindling, the company is now considering the sale of 1,100 patents (about 10% of its portfolio), including the valuable image previewing patent. A sale might bring in significantly more cash than the market value of the company, which currently sits at about $600 million.
Image credit: FOR SALE BY OWNER (if you can find it) by The-Tim
At what point does inspiration turn into plagiarism? That’s the question that popped up last year when Rhianna was sued by David LaChapelle over scenes found in one of her music videos, and it’s the same issue with a lawsuit recently filed by photographer Janine Gordon against photographer Ryan McGinley. Gordon claims that 150 of McGinley’s images — including some used for a Levi’s ad campaign — are “substantially based” on her photos. In the three pairs of disputed images shown above, the ones on the left are by Gordon and the ones on the right by McGinley.
The legal battle between photographer Mike Hipple and sculptor Jack Mackie over a photo of Mackie’s public art piece “Dance Steps on Broadway” has ended with Hipple paying a settlement out of court. Mackie writes,
Anyone can make photographs of any public art and do most anything they want with the photograph. Private photos are most likely not infringements. People can frame them and give them to their uncles and aunts as gifts, they can post them on their facebook pages, or they can make Valentines with them and give them away. What they can not do, and this was the basis for the lawsuit, is offer to commercially sell them, which Mr. Hipple did, at least twice.
[...] The legal issues surrounding this case have always been clear and obvious. Instead of acceding to the clarity of the law, Mr. Hipple attempted numerous defenses. Mr. Hipple pleaded that because my art work is popular I should no longer be allowed to hold copyright. Tell that to Walt Disney. Mr. Hipple pleaded that one can not copyright public art. Tell that to the US Registrar of Copyrights. Mr. Hipple claimed that my art work is “instructional” and that his photograph “depicts dancing.” Taking him up on this argument we produced an image of his photograph containing my Dance Steps juxtaposed to an image of his carefully posed shoe model on a blank sidewalk [shown above]. Does his image without the Steps “depict dancing?” You decide.
Our initial post on this case in early 2010 sparked quite a bit of debate in the comments, with plenty of people arguing both sides.
Between 1969 and 1972, NASA left 12 Hasselblad cameras on the moon to make room for moon rocks. One camera that wasn’t left there was a 16mm camera called the “Data Acquisition Camera” used during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. It’s now in the center of a legal dispute between the US government and astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to set foot on the moon. Mitchell claims that NASA allowed him to keep the camera as a souvenir after the mission, while NASA says that no evidence of this transfer ever took place. The camera was slated to be auctioned for an estimated $60,000-$80,000, but now NASA is suing Mitchell to get the camera back. The lawsuit states,
All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party.
Looks like those Hasselblads on the moon aren’t free for the taking after all. Shucks.
(via Reuters via Space)
In 2009 Andy Baio of Waxy.org — founder of Upcoming.org and former CTO of Kickstarter — created Kind of Bloop, an 8-bit tribute album to the best-selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. While Baio meticulously licensed all the music he used to create the album, he released a pixelated version of the original album cover (top, second from left) without licensing it, believing it was different and low-res enough to be considered fair use. He was then sued by the photographer, Jay Maisel, who “felt violated to find his image of Miles Davis, one of his most well-known and highly-regarded images, had been pixellated [...]“.
Turns out turning photographs into stencils isn’t transformative enough to be defended as “fair use”. In a case that has many similarities to the Shepard Fairey vs. AP legal battle, a judge ruled earlier this week against graffiti artist Thierry Guetta after Guetta (AKA Mr. Brainwash) had used a “stencil-ized” photo of Run DMC by Glen E. Friedman to promote an exhibition, concluding that Guetta’s piece didn’t differ enough from the original image to be considered fair use.
What are your thoughts on this issue? How much does a photograph need to be transformed before it is considered a new piece of art?
(via Boing Boing)
Image credits: Photograph of Run DMC by Glen E. Friedman
Things aren’t going very well for Sigma these days — just days after the world balked at the $9,700 price tag it’s attaching to the upcoming SD1 DSLR, Nikon is announcing that it’s suing Sigma for $150 million over the vibration reduction technology found in Sigma DSLR lenses. Furthermore, it’s demanding that Sigma put a halt to the manufacturing and sale of lenses that infringe on the VR patents, which might be a large number of OS (Optical Stabilization) lenses.
(via Nikon Rumors)
Image credit: Fighting Topis by Stuart Barr
In mid-2010, Time Magazine showed off a demonstration of a slick tablet app they were making in collaboration with The Wonderfactory. As it became widely shared across the web, HDR photographer Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs started receiving messages from fans who spotted his work in the video demo. Problem was, he had never given the magazine or the agency permission to use his work.
Alberto Korda‘s iconic photo of Che Guevara, titled “Guerrillero Heroico“, is constantly at the center of copyright battles, with Koda’s daughter Diana Díaz even licensing the image for branded products in order to fund the legal fights. The latest case involves a London gift company, takkoda, which recently began selling products featuring a dog Photoshopped to look like Che in Korda’s photo. The designers insist that there was no copyright infringement but, rather than risking a prolonged legal battle, the gift company decided to settle out of court. Though the amount of the settlement was not made known, it’s estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
(via Amateur Photographer)