After nearly a year in litigation and after filing a countersuit, Lebron James is settling with a photographer over his alleged misuse of a photo on social media. The lawsuit alleged that James misappropriated an image for his social media feed without compensating the photographer.
Mitchell sued James and his companies Uninterrupted Digital Ventures and LRMR Ventures LLC, both of which, the complaint asserted, operate James’s Facebook page, over copyright infringement. Mitchell filed a claim in court asking for any money made off the post or $150,000 for each time James used the image.
James responded with a countersuit asking for at least $1 million and attorney fees. You can read the details of that story here.
Did LeBron James commit copyright infringement by posting on his Facebook page a professional photographer's photo of him dunking? That question is at issue in a new federal lawsuit against James. Details in a @SInow and @TheCrossover legal story: https://t.co/SwwgRfHNGe pic.twitter.com/0STpTDLbKO
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) March 23, 2020
According to The Athletic, the impetus for the settlement may have been a judge had recently ordered James to appear in a settlement conference in person, scheduled for next week. James’ attorney said that he was “empowered to settle” and that “his client did not need to appear.” Apparently a separate, previous settlement conference date had already been cancelled because it conflicted with a Lakers game.
James’s attorney, Howard Shire, has previously stated that settlement hearing were “an imposition on his time,” which likely prompted the Judge to require James’ attendance.
“Well, I object to your statement, that is an imposition on his time,” the Judge said. “He brought these… counterclaims and he has to be prepared to litigate them. This is a settlement conference, a common feature of litigation. So, it’s hard for me to accept it would be perhaps one thing if he were a defendant, because I can understand that celebrities sometimes get people suing them. And I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here. But they sometimes get people suing them to harass them or to get to be in the same Zoom video call with them or whatever. But Mr. James has brought counterclaims, and he has an obligation to litigate those claims.”
The details of the settlement have not been made public, but it appears to result in closing both outstanding lawsuits.
“The parties have reached a settlement in principle that resolves all claims in this action,” the two sides wrote in the joint filing as reported by The Athletic. “The parties thus jointly request twenty-one (21) days to memorialize and execute the agreement in writing, after which time the parties intend to file a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice.”
Of note, this apparent reason for the settlement appears to allow James and his attorney to close the lawsuit without having to admit to or be found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Image credits: Header photograph by All-Pro Reels and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0