Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Federal Judge Backs Photog in Social Media Copyright Claim

English: Shown here Jan. 17, 2010, are buildin...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alison Nathan this week in Agence France Presse v. Morel (Case No. 10-cv-02730) granted, in part, a summary judgment motion brought by a photographer who claims news organizations infringed on copyrighted images he posted on Twitter.

According to a report by the wire service Reuters, photographer Daniel Morel tweeted photos he took of the destruction caused by an earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Defendant Agence France Presse (AFP) transmitted Morel's photos to defendant Getty Images, four of which were published on the Web site of defendant Washington Post , which subscribes to Getty, according to the court ruling.

AFP contended the photos in question were available for re-use once they were posted on Twitter, but Judge Nathan found AFP and the Washington Post infringed on Morel's copyright because the social media platform's terms of service did not grant a license to the defendants to reproduce the images without Morel's permission. The court imposed a ceiling on the amount of damages Morel could recover, did not rule on the infringement claim as to Getty Images, and left unresolved other issues for trial, a date for which has not yet been set.

The Reuters article reported that Morel countersued the defendants after AFP initially filed suit against Morel in March 2010, seeking a determination that it had not infringed on Morel's copyright. Twitter, which is not a party to the suit, takes the view that users of the service own their photographs that are posted on Twitter.
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