Agence France Presse v Daniel Morel

Like many photographers I have a very clear view about the unauthorised use by AFP of Daniel Morel‘s images from Haiti.

Pure and simple theft.

It’s hard to see that AFP have any legal leg to stand on, having taken Morel’s images without permission from Twitpic and distributed them, in clear defiance of the copyright terms. The only way for them – and others who have used these images without permission – to restore any credibility with photographers is for them to issue a fulsome apology and pay up. With any luck the Southern District Court in New York will come to much the same conclusion before too long.

You can read more about the case in a summary in the BJP 1854 blog which also discusses the more than curious interventions of Visa Pour l’Image photojournalism festival founder Jean-François Leroy, which it would be over-polite to call total nonsense.

You can read more about that on Duckrabbit, which has made a sensible response to his comments and has printed his reply to that.

Leroy argues that his response is similar to that of an insurance company. Perhaps so, but if so it is the kind of insurance company that goes to incredible lengths to find something in the small print that enables  it to wriggle out of its clear moral responsibilities.

It’s hard to see why a previously well-respected  figure like Leroy should take the stand that he has, supporting what seems a very clear breach of the law, and certainly actions which prejudice the rights of photographers and their ability to properly recompensed for their efforts.

Theft is theft. Really all there is to this case.

Getty Images became a sponsor of Visa Pour l’Image in 2008.  Getty is one of the few companies that have sided with AFP in refusing to compensate Morel.  Many are making the connection between Leroy’s position and the interests of his sponsor, and he needs to do something positive in the interests of the future of the festival – even if it might mean losing sponsorship.

Surely it’s time for Leroy too to throw up his hands and say sorry, I hadn’t really understood what the case was about, and I got it wrong.  If not before, I hope the court’s decision will be clear and will persuade him to do so.

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