Morel Case Continues

I’ve written previously about the dispute between Agence France Presse (AFP) and Hiatian photographer Daniel Morel in two posts, Agence France Presse v Daniel Morel and More on AFP v Morel Copyright Theft.  Basically AFP saw the pictures on Twitter and decided to use them, selling them to multiple clients and then not only claimed that they didn’t need to pay the photographer because he had put them on Twitter, but sued him for claiming copyright, asking a New York court to dismiss his claims.

An article on the NUJ Freelance Branch web site by Mike Holderness reports the result of that hearing, held on Dec 23, and it is generally very good news both for photographers in general and Morel in particular. The piece also links to the blog post giving details of the case by Associate Professor of Law Eric Goldman, of Santa Clara University School of Law, an expert on both cyber law and intellectual property law. Both posts link to the transcript of the proceedings. The court dismissed AFP’s suggestion that it could make free use of material posted on Twitter – AFP just didn’t have a case, as the judge makes pretty clear to their lawyer in the court proceedings, and it’s hard to see why they bothered to go to court on that issue.  So Morel can pursue his case and if AFP have any sense at all they (and Getty) will come to a settlement with him without a further court case.

Perhaps more importantly for the rest of us, the court  looked at Morel’s claim that AFP had breached section 1202 of the DMCA by removing copyright management information (CMI)  from the pictures. On Morel’s own page on Twitpic he had included his own name next to the images. AFP argued that CMI had to be actually included in the images, but the court decided otherwise. So even if you have images on line which don’t have metadata or a watermark, so long as your name is there on the page you probably have a claim under the DMCA if that information is not also kept with the images.

Things didn’t go entirely Morel’s (and Corbis’s) way. The court rejected the vicarious infringement claims against CNN and CBS because of a failure to plead any direct financial interest in their use of the images, and also their attempt to use trademark law.

The court transcript I think ends with the judge telling them it would be a good idea to come to an agreement, and if they cannot do so that the case could be brought back to him.

I still find it very hard to understand why AFP felt it could get away with this.

One Response to “Morel Case Continues”

  1. For anyone confused by Eric Goldman’s rather novel legal terminology, my slang dictionary defines “clusterf**k” as a group of confused people unable to decide what to do next. It wasn’t a term I had heard before.

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