A photographer has sued a small church for allegedly using his photo as a thumbnail image for a video of a sermon — without his consent.
According to a report by The State, photographer Erin Paul Donovan filed a lawsuit against Wightman United Methodist Church of Prosperity in Prosperity, South Carolina.
Prosperity is a town of little more than 1,000 people in Newberry County, South Carolina.
Donovan, who is based in New Hampshire, claims that the church used his mountainscape photo without his permission.
The State reports that the photographer’s lawsuit includes a screen grab of Wightman United Methodist Church of Prosperity website.
The screenshot reportedly reveals a photo that Donovan shot of the White Mountains in New Hampshire — which the church used as the thumbnail image for a video of a sermon that took place in June 2021.
In the complaint, Donovan accuses the church of removing his copyright notice, name, and watermarks from the original photo as it was posted to his website.
According to Donovan’s lawsuit, the photographer first notified Wightman United Methodist Church of Prosperity of the alleged copyright infringement in June. However, Donovan and the church have been unable to resolve the issue.
“Donovan alleges that Defendant copied his copyrighted Work from the internet in order to advertise, market and promote its business activities,” the photographer’s lawsuit claims.
“Donovan notified WUMC of the allegations… on June 21, 2023, and July 20, 2023. To date, the parties have failed to resolve this matter.”
The photographer has asked the US District Court for the District of South Carolina to impose damages on Wightman United Methodist Church of Prosperity and prevent it from using his photos again.
According to The State, a reporter for the publication checked the church’s website on Wednesday to see if the thumbnail image or the video had been removed.
The reporter said that the video stream of the church service from that date was still playable and showed a sermon about believing in impossible things.
However, a second video on the social media page from Facebook Watch reportedly reads: “This video can’t be embedded because it may contain content owned by someone else.”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.