*************** UPDATE 01-29-14 ***************
On January 24, 2014 Morel’s lawyers filed a Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law. Attorney Joseph T. Baio argued that the court should stop AFP/Getty’s “continuing four-year war of attrition against Mr. Morel” and deny their request “to eradicate the jury’s findings across the board, slash the amounts they must pay Mr. Morel, or order a ‘do-over’ in the form of a new trial on all issues.”
Getty Images and Agency France-Presse have filed documents requesting a landmark copyright infringement verdict rendered against the media giants be overturned.
In the motion challenging the verdict, AFP and Getty’s lawyers claim, among other things, that no reasonable jury could have found that their clients willfully committed infringement. The motion also disputes the jury’s allocation of actual damages (damages directly traceable to the copyright infringement) claiming the $275,000 was excessive and not supported by sufficient evidence. AFP and Getty are seeking a reduction in damages or a new trial so the issue can be reheard.
Last November a jury essentially threw the book at Getty and AFP, awarding photographer Daniel Morel $1.22 million in damages on a claim arising from the media groups’ unauthorized use of Morel’s photos of the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
The case arose after Getty and AFP used images Morel posted to Twitter. The groups falsely credited another user who had reposted the photos and claimed to own them. The damages awarded are the maximum allowed, increasing the impact of a case that had already captured the public’s attention as a test of the law’s treatment of intellectual property shared on social media.
Getty and AFP claimed that Twitter’s terms of service allowed supported their use of Morel’s photographs. AFP went as far as to file suit against Morel, arguing that he was interfering with their business practices.
In 2011 a federal district court judge dismissed AFP’s claim and ruled that it, as well as Getty, had infringed on Morel’s copyright by publishing the photos without his permission, and the decision was heralded as a major victory for photographers who share content on the Internet. It was then up to a jury to decide the appropriate damages, that determination in part being premised on whether or not the group’s copyright infringement had been “willful”.
Posted in AFP, AFP v Morel, Agence France-Presse, Daniel Morel, Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Getty, Getty Images, Lawsuit, Legal, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Twitpic, Twitter | 25 Comments »