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Philly Photog Sues District Attorney Over Use of Photo as Twitter Background


ScreenHunter_98 Aug. 05 14.55

Today’s award for taking copyright seriously goes to Philadelphia photographer/blooger R. Bradley Maule, who’s suing the city’s district attorney for allegedly misappropriating one of Maule’s images as the background for his Twitter page.

Maule specializes in writing and photography about urban architecture, especially that of Philadelphia, as chronicled on his Philly Skyline blog. Maule says in his suit that he discovered this April that one of the images posted on his blog, a 2005 shot of the Philadelphia skyline manipulated to look more or less as it does now, was decorating the Twitter page for District Attorney R. Seth Williams.

District Attorney R. Seth Williams, courtesy Philadelphia District Attorney website
District Attorney R. Seth Williams, courtesy Philadelphia District Attorney website
Noting that the image was copyrighted and watermarked as such, Maule contacted the DA and asked him to remove it. Williams denied any infringement, said he only accessed Twitter via his phone so he didn’t even have a background image, and called the accusation “silly bulls–t,” according to the suit.

Maule’s attorney later tried to explain that viewing the Twitter feed on a “regular person’s computer” rather than a phone would show the image, to which Williams replied that he didn’t have access to a “regular person’s computer.” According to the suit, Williams “then suggested that undersigned counsel might as well go ahead and file this lawsuit for copyright infringement.”

“At best,” the suit summarizes, “the District Attorney of Philadelphia has no idea how to use a computer, a smartphone, a Twitter account and/or a Twitter webpage. At worst, the defendant lied and/or misrepresented to the plaintiff, on no less than three separate occasions” about his use of the image.

Maule is seeking unspecified damages and an injuction barring Williams from using the image, which appears to have been removed from his Twitter page.

(via ArtInfo and Courthouse News Service)

Image credit: “Large copyright graffiti…” by Horia Varlan