The National Press Photographers Association announced this week that it will be joining a major lawsuit filed against NYC and the NYPD for civil rights violations during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Donalee Moulton over at The Lawyers Weekly has an article describing how EXIF data is beginning to be accepted as valuable evidence in courtrooms — at least in Canada:
Traditionally, a photograph was a picture of one point in time. It could only tell what someone was doing, or not doing, at a particular moment on a particular day. What came before or after was unknown. This uncertainty meant that even what appeared to be a damning image had little value as a piece of evidence because there was no context [...]
Digital photography does not pose the same problem. In some cases, the metadata are enough to counter the snapshot argument by demonstrating that an activity was performed repeatedly or for a lengthy period [...]
Apparently judges are considering EXIF data to be relevant in personal injury lawsuits, in which photos could “prove” that the plaintiff isn’t too injured or depressed to function properly. Hopefully the courts are aware of how easily EXIF data can be faked.
Smile, You’re on Metadata [The Lawyers Weekly]
Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!
Apple is constantly engaged in its fair share of courtroom battles, but its latest one hits a little closer to home for photographers. Swiss photographer Sabine Liewald has filed a lawsuit against Apple for using her “Eye Closeup” photograph to promote the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina Display.
Here’s an interesting piece of photo trivia for today: did you know that Apple’s similarities with Kodak don’t end with Steve Jobs modeling his career and his company after Polaroid? The ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung is strikingly similar to the battle Polaroid had with Kodak many decades ago.
Did you know that in California, “rights of publicity” are transfered to a celebrity’s heirs after the celebrity dies? This means that photos of the famous individual may continue to be subject to the heir’s licensing fees when the photo owners want to license them out for use in commercial products. A court ruling issued last week provides an interesting case study into how this California law can affect photography rights. PDN writes,
Owners of Marilyn Monroe photographs have won a decisive legal victory [...] which has affirmed that Marilyn Monroe heirs have inherited no rights of publicity to the actress’s likeness.
The decision means that Monroe’s heirs cannot control how images of the actress are used commercially, and cannot demand fees whenever those images are licensed for use on calendars, posters, memorabilia, or other products.
[...] The appeals court affirmed a lower court decision that said Monroe was a New York resident because her heirs had insisted upon that for 40 years in order to avoid paying California taxes. The courts said the heirs cannot now claim Monroe was a California resident in order to take financial advantage of California’s posthumous right of publicity laws.
So basically, if Monroe had been a California resident, using photos of her for commercial purposes would still require hefty fees. Since she wasn’t, photo owners can tap into the lucrative Monroe memorabilia industry — which generated $27 million in 2011 — without paying a dime.
One of the reasons photographers raise a fuss when their rights are infringed upon is to create awareness in the general public and among law enforcement. A recent lawsuit between a photojournalist and the Washington DC police department has done just that. The Washington Post reports:
District police cannot interfere with citizens as they photograph or videotape officers performing their jobs in public, according to a new directive issued by Chief Cathy L. Lanier as part of settlement in a civil lawsuit.
The six-page general order, similar to one published by police in Baltimore in November, warns officers that “a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.”
[...] “It tells police to leave people alone,” Spitzer said. “It makes it clear that if a person is in a place that interferes with police operations, the officer can ask or tell them to move to another location, but they can’t tell them to stop taking pictures.”
D.C. officers are directed to leave citizen photographers alone [The Washington Post]
Photographer can customize a Model or Property release using the ASMP standard releases. The app allows you to create templates, take a photograph of the subject, specify the uses for the images, including any sensitive or digital manipulation issues, and images of minors, the models can then sign the release and a PDF is emailed to the photographer, agent, model and client as needed. [#]
The app also includes generic stock photography releases by Getty Images. Photography release apps are nothing new, but you certainly can’t beat the price of free.
Professor and self-proclaimed cyborg Steve Mann created an eye and memory-aid device he calls the EyeTap Digital Glass. The EyeTap, worn by Mann above on the left, is a wearable device that is similar to Google Eye, pictured right, but he’s been making them at home since the 1980s. The goal of his project is to use images to aid memory, or even to augment the memories of people with Alzheimer’s Disease or who simply want to preserve their memories more permanently. However, a recent misunderstanding over Mann’s technology allegedly caused a confrontation between Mann and several employees at a Paris McDonald’s restaurant.
The University of California has agreed to dish out a $162,500 settlement to David Morse, a 43-year-old photographer who was arrested back in 2009 while covering a student protest. The SF Chronicle writes,
[The suit] an officer told Morse, “We want your camera. We believe your camera contains evidence of a crime.”
The officers ignored his press pass and arrested him and seven others on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, the suit said.
Morse spent the night in jail. Prosecutors declined to file charges.
But police obtained a search warrant and used several of his photos in brochures and online in hopes that the public could identify individuals.
As part of the settlement, the police department has also agreed to modify its procedures regarding seeking materials from journalists and will be conducting training sessions teaching its officers about media rights.
The UK government issued an updated copyright policy statement today that’s intended to modernize copyright law in a digital era. But here’s where those traditionally protected under copyright — authors, poets, artists, photographers and so forth — begin to cringe: sweeping definitions of “orphan works” and Extended Collective Licensing could allow companies to buy chunks of content without compensating original authors.