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Photographer Wins $588 in Court, Al Gore’s Current TV Wants It Back


Former Vice President Al Gore’s company, Current TV is in a legal tussle with San Francisco photographer Ken Light over the rights to a photo Light took of a prison inmate. Current TV, which was recently in national headlines when two of its journalists were detained in North Korea, allegedly used Light’s image of a death row inmate without his permission. Light says the company posted his image on the Current TV site for several weeks without responding to the photographer’s requests for payment.

In order to expedite his case, Light took his case to the small claims court, and managed to win a suit against Current TV for unfair business practices in February. Light was awarded a small $588 to cover his court costs and small fee compensation for the image, which Light says was an amount most other users would have paid.

Light originally shot the image for an award-winning piece in The New Yorker about wrongfully convicted death row inmates. The image was bought and used in several other publications.

At the time of his win, Light told PDNPulse that he felt his win was a “victory on principle”:

“Maybe if we attacked in small claims court and won, some of these companies might be more careful,” Light concludes.

However, Light’s victory may be short lived. In a surprising move, Current TV has motioned for an appeal — they want their $588 back.

PDNPulse reports that Current TV has appealed to the San Francisco Superior Court, meaning that the media company may be investing much more into their defense. PDN notes that the company will be paying much more for the proceedings to happen, but it appears they are trying to defend their claim that the image was considered fair use and did not require permission or payment.

(via PDNPulse)