New Copyright Infringement Case: Greenfield v. Pankey

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Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 12.44.01 AMBy Irina Tarsis, Esq.*

Chasse away Cariou v. Prince! Filed on December 20, 2013 with amended complaint submitted on the New Year’s Eve, Greenfield v. Pankey has the making of another exciting photographer v. artist case. Plaintiff, Lois Greenfield is a dance photographer. She is accusing Jill Pankey of basing her paintings on Greenfield’s photos, 33 photos to be exact.

According to the complaint, Greenfield is “one of the country’s foremost dance

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photographers” who does not photograph dance performances but instead “directs and composes unique dance imagery in her studio.” Defendant, at one time art faculty at Texas State University used Greenfield’s photographs in more than 20 of her paintings. After a third party noticed that Pankey’s work was based on Greenfield’s photos, Pankey tried to secure Greenfields permission to copy her work. Pankey admitted to using photos of dancers as inspiration for her paintings. In an email, she even admitted to harming Greenfield but according to the complaint, defendant continued to sell her paintings online.

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While Pankey is not a New York resident — she resides in Texas — New York Federal Court seems to have jurisdiction to decide the dispute because Defendant promoted her work to New York residents and exhibited her paintings in Manhattan gallery shows.

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Given the willful infringement alleged by Plainitff, Greenfield is seeing maximum statutory damages, actual damages and litigation costs as well as injunction against using Greenfields’s copyrighted photographs not to mention the delivery of Pankey’s paintings for for distraction or other disposition.

Complaint includes many side by side comparison’s of Greenfield’s photos and Pankey’s paintings as well as charts listing infringed and infringing works. Greenfield’s counsel is Andrew Berger with Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP.

Source: Complaint, Greenfield v. Pankey, 1:13-cv-09025-PGG  (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 27, 2013)


This article is intended as general information, not legal advice, and is no substitute for seeking representation.

7 thoughts on “New Copyright Infringement Case: Greenfield v. Pankey

    Mario Gonzalez said:
    January 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    This would have been a simple collaborative effort showcasing Greenfield’s compositional genius. I hope that this can be settled and that Pankey’s derivative works are not destroyed. This flatters Greenfield in a pretty impressive way, assuming the proceeds are properly shared and derivative credit properly given.

      Irina Tarsis, Esq. responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Mario. Your points regarding profit sharing and settling out of court are valid and worth exploring. Greenfield does have valid copyright to her photographs and Pankey, having copied them without getting a license, will have a hard time proving that her use of the photographs was transformative. For example, see Cariou v. Prince, 11-1197-cv. (2nd Cir, 2013).

        Gisela Gaffoglio said:
        February 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        In addition to sharing the profits, in most countries, a derivative work requires the previous authorization of the authour of the original work. Is that so in the US?

        Irina Tarsis, Esq. responded:
        March 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        There is no fast rule about obtaining authorization from the original author to create “derivative works”. If copyright is infringed, the the original author may seek damages. Some copyright owners benefit from protection of collecting agencies, for example VAGA ( and ASCAP ( but the protection is not universal or guaranteed.

        Gisela Gaffoglio said:
        March 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        Thank you so much for your answer Irina. In my Argentina all derivative works has to be authorized by the author if not copyright is infringed and the authour can seek damages. If I understood right this authotization from the author od the original work is not always required? Must the authour of the derivative work share profits with the authour of the original?

    […] works for items such as postcards, posters, and other public consumables.” In another recent law suit, photographer Lois Greenfield, sued painter Jill Pankey, alleging that Pankey appropriated 33 of […]

    Gisela Gaffoglio said:
    February 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    If Pankey had duly cited Greenfield, indicating the title of the name of the authour and the title of the work he was using,, this could be deemed “derecho de cita” or fair use in common law countries.

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