ASMP: latest legal issues facing photogs

Every week, the news magazine has a section called “Boring but Important” or some such classification. That’s sadly what this post could be called, unless tort law really gets your juices flowing… In any case, (no pun intended) it’s a great news update from about legal cases facing photographers this month:

ASMP = On Your Side

Last month, Judge Deborah Batts of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that well-known and highly paid “appropriation artist” Richard Prince’s infringements of photographer Patrick Cariou’s images were not “fair use,”** as had been argued by Prince, but were just plain infringements. Prince takes visual works, usually copyrighted works, created by others, as the basis for his creations and had, up to now, avoided being sued for copyright infringement. A status conference regarding damages has been scheduled for May 6. In the meantime, Prince and his gallery have been ordered to turn over all unsold copies, in any medium, for disposition as determined by Cariou. Prince and his gallery have also been ordered to notify all owners of the infringing paintings that they are unlawful infringements. All photographers owe Patrick Cariou their thanks for pursuing this case.

Judge Denny Chin issued an opinion rejecting the proposed settlement agreement in the Authors’ Guild class action against Google. The 48-page decision finds that the proposed settlement agreement is not “fair, adequate and reasonable.” The Judge points to changing the basic approach of the proposed settlement from an “opt out” to an “opt in” system as a way to resolve most of the objections to and defects of the settlement proposal. According to General Counsel Victor Perlman, “This result was anticipated by ASMP, and we are now in the process of reviewing the details of the decision in order to make strategic decisions going forward.” ASMP, joined by other professional organizations and photographers, filed a class action copyright infringement suit against Google last April in the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York which is currently pending. You can read the most recent decision here.

Copyright attorney Lois Wasoff and Copyright Clearance Center’s Christopher Kenneally analyzed this highly anticipated decision, what it means for those affected by the proposed settlement and what is likely to happen next in an hour-long seminar, Unraveling the Rejection – The Google Book Settlement. To read a summary of this seminar, go here.


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