Back in 2006, a pornography publishing company named Perfect 10 attempted to sue Google over copyright infringement, claiming that the thumbnails displayed on Google’s image search did not fall under “fair use.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court wouldn’t even hear the case, allowing the ruling that thumbnails are fair use to stand and handing Perfect 10 yet another loss (they’ve sustained many in this area).
If you’ve been following us for a while you may remember the Hope poster lawsuit we reported on in January of 2010. The case pitted artist Shepard Fairey against the AP and Mannie Garcia over a photograph Garcia had taken of President Obama. Fairey, who ultimately lost the case when he admitted to having destroyed and falsified evidence, was claiming that his poster fit the definition of fair use.
Today we have a similar issue of photographs that have been altered artistically, only the players have changed to music photographer Jim Marshall’s Estate vs. Thierry Guetta (Mr. Brainwash) and Google.
Here’s a good example of why photographers should think about carrying liability insurance: Art + Auction magazine is being sued for $300,000 by art collector Corice Amran after its photographers accidentally knocked over a 2,630-year-old Nigerian Nok statue. The magazine was photographing the terracotta statue — the oldest known figurative sculpture south of the Sahara — at Amran’s house in May 2011 when the photographers decided to pick it up and move it to the opposite side of the room. According to the lawsuit,
During the photographers’ move of the Nok figure, the Nok figure fell onto the floor and was smashed into a myriad of pieces, cannot be restored and is a total loss. Defendant, through the photographers, acted negligently and without the due care necessary with respect to the Nok figure, particularly in light of its rarity, value and fragility. As the result of defendant’s negligence, the 2,630-year-old Nok figure owned by plaintiff was destroyed.
At least it was an inanimate statue and not a baby…
(via Courthouse News via Boing Boing)
PDN has published an interview with art collector Jonathan Sobel, who’s suing photographer William Eggleston for creating and selling new prints of iconic photos that were once sold as “limited edition” prints. The new prints that recently fetched $5.9 million at auction were digital prints that were larger than the original ones.
The dispute boils down to this question: If an artist produces and sells a limited edition of a photographic work, and then re-issues the same image in a different size, or in a different print format or medium, does the re-issue qualify as a separate edition? Or do the new prints breach New York law that defines “limited edition,” and therefore defraud the buyers of those original limited edition versions of the work?
The answer could have a significant effect on the photographic print market. A number of photographers issue limited editions of their works, then later issue new editions of the same works, reprinted at different sizes or in different mediums. The reason is obvious: When an edition sells out, and scarcity drives up the price, artists want to cash in on pent up demand.
Sobel, who has spent 10 years studying and collecting Eggleston’s work, claims that eight of his prints that were previously worth $850,000 have been devalued by the recent sale.
Q&A: Art Collector Jonathan Sobel Explains His Beef with William Eggleston (via The Click)
Last month we reported that 36 digital pigment prints of photos by William Eggleston had been auctioned off for a whopping $5.9 million. At least one man wasn’t too happy about the news: a New York-based art collector named Jonathan Sobel has filed a lawsuit against Eggleston, claiming that the photographer’s decisions to sell new, oversized prints of his iconic images has diluted the resale value of the originals. Sobel owns one of the largest private collections of Eggleston’s photographs — 192 photos worth an estimated $5 million. He is seeking unspecified damages and also a ban to prevent Eggleston from making new prints of his 1960s suburbia photos.
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.
After being arrested on October 1, 2007 for using his cell phone to film officers making an arrest, Boston lawyer Simon Glik sued the city for violating his civil rights. Late last year the court denied a motion to have the case dismissed, and just yesterday it was announced that the City of Boston had come to a settlement with Glik, agreeing to pay him $170,000 for damages and legal fees. The decision last year and the settlement yesterday both reaffirm that the First Amendment protects the right to photograph and film police officers carrying out their duties in a public place.
(via ACLU via Ars Technica)
Image credit: cop snapping pics with cellphone by SpecialKRB
It wasn’t too long ago that Kodak filed multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in a scramble for life-giving cash, but now the tables have turned. Less than a month after Kodak filed for bankruptcy and announced the end of its camera business, Apple is reportedly in the process of asking the court for permission to sue bankrupt Kodak for infringing on Apple’s patents in its printers, digital cameras, and digital picture frames. This back and forth IP fight is one that Kodak might not be in for long: the company is still trying to sell off its portfolio of roughly 1,100 imaging patents.
(via Bloomberg via Ars Technica)
Image credit: Knockout by What What
If you’re a photographer in the UK, you might want to think twice about shooting and selling a photograph that has a similar composition to an existing photo. Souvenir company Temple Island Collection has won a copyright infringement case against tea company New English Teas after a photo of a red London bus was used on tea packaging. Photo copyright expert and lawyer Charles Swan states,
His honour Judge Birss QC decided that a photograph of a red London bus against a black and white background of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, with a blank sky, was similar enough to another photograph of the same subject matter to infringe copyright.
The decision is perhaps surprising, given the commonplace subject matter of the photographs. The judge himself admitted that he found it a difficult question, but in the end he decided that a substantial part of photograph one [Temple Island's image, top] had been reproduced in photograph two [New English Teas', bottom].
Although the photo itself wasn’t copied, the judge ruled that the similarity of the ‘visual contrast’ of the red bus and B&W background infringed on the original photographer’s ‘intellectual creation’. The case is reminiscent of photographer David LaChapelle’s lawsuit against Rihanna for infringing upon his style in one of her music videos. Rihanna ended up paying an undisclosed sum of money to LaChapelle to settle the case.
Photographers Face Copyright Threat after Shock Ruling [Amateur Photographer]
Kodak might be on its deathbed, but that’s not stopping the company from launching a new volley of lawsuits over patent infringements. Already trying to milk $1 billion from Apple, the company has filed new lawsuits against smartphone makers Apple and HTC, alleging that Apple violated four of its patents and HTC five. The lawsuits center around technology for transferring photos on and off devices. While today’s lawsuits might simply be a creative marketing effort in Kodak’s attempt to sell off its patent portfolio, the market seems pleased with it: the stock price jumped nearly 40% today.
(via Foss Patents via Engadget)
Image credit: Two Against One by Alistair Knock