By Irina Tarsis, Esq. On January 12, 2010, earthquake devastated Haiti. Photojournalist Daniel Morel, a Haiti native took photographs and posted them on Twitpic, a service that allows posting and sharing images and videos on Twitter. The images were picked up by an Agence France Presse (AFP) editor and distributed through AFP’s channels and through Getty Images. They were attributed to Lisandro Suero, another photojournalist who was in the Dominican Republic at the time of the earthquake. Ultimately, the images were sold to AFP and Getty Images customers and appeared in major newspapers and other publications.
While AFP was the first to sue Morel for “commercial disparagement,” — the photographer objected against attribution and use of his copyright protected materials by the defendants, on January 14, 2013, New York District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan found that AFP and Getty Images were liable for copyright infringement of Morel’s photographs. On November 13, 2013, the parties will begin the jury selection for the trial to determine damages available under the Copyright Act.
From the Press Release:
“The legal battle started in unusual fashion in 2010. After Mr. Morel complained to AFP, Getty Images, and their customers that the media companies had licensed the photographs without his permission, AFP sued Mr. Morel for “commercial disparagement,” sought to strip him of any copyright protection in his photographs, and requested compensatory and punitive damages against the photojournalist. Judge Nathan dismissed the claim that Mr. Morel forfeited his copyright in the photographs by posting them on Twitter. In a landmark ruling, Judge Nathan held that “Twitter’s terms of service did not give the news agency a license to publish the images without Morel’s permission.”
The trial, which is expected to last a week, is open to the public.
Mr. Morel is represented by Joseph T. Baio (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Emma J. James (email@example.com) of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.”
Sources: Willkie Farr & Gallagher Press Release; AFP v. Morel, No. 10 Civ. 02730 (AJN) (S.D.N.Y. Jan.14, 2013).