Jury Awards Daniel Morel $1.2 Million in Damages from AFP, Getty Images

A jury has awarded photographer Daniel Morel $1.2 million in damages after deciding that Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Getty Images willfully violated his copyright. The award is the maximum amount of statutory damages possible under the law. AFP and Getty Images were also found liable for 16 violations of  the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The verdict was read in Federal Court in Manhattan this afternoon, Morel’s attorney, Joseph Baio confirmed.

Throughout the trial, which  began on November 13, attorneys for Getty Images and AFP had argued that the distribution of Morel’s images was not willful infringement but the result of mistakes.  Lawyers for AFP and Getty Images had suggested an award of $275,000. That amount was based on a photographer’s day rate of $275 multiplied by 1,000, attorney Joseph Baio told Rangefinder’s Lindsay Comstock.

The case began in 2010 when Morel alerted AFP and Getty Images that they were distributing his exclusive images of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti without his permission; Morel received no payment for the use of his images.  A Federal Court judge ruled in January that AFP, which originally distributed his images, had infringed his copyright. The jury trial that was to determine whether or not the infringement was willful, and what statutory damages should be awarded to Morel.

Lindsay Comstock at Rangefinder reports that Morel’s lawyer described the photographer as “delighted” with the verdict, while the defense was “dumbfounded.”

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13 Responses to “Jury Awards Daniel Morel $1.2 Million in Damages from AFP, Getty Images”

  1. Chicago Photographer Says:

    Typical stock agencies and wire services, they think everything is free and that a 275 day rate is a livable wage when you are a photographer. Lets see how this other lawsuit against AP and Getty pans out by the 7 contributors that shoot NFL football for them.

  2. Lost Angeles Says:

    Actually Getty pay $200 for a complete buyout of copyright & any future royalties. They give you 35% if you are a contributor for any sales they make.

  3. Tony Says:

    Getty pays 20% royalties on stock. That’s disgusting. Nice to see the photographer win.

  4. Pat Alexander Says:

    Wonderful news! It would be nice to think it would serve as a lesson for Getty, AFP and other large photo agencies.

  5. Robbie Merritt Says:

    this week i had a set of images which i agreed to shoot for Hotspot media in UK for one publication with credits and copyright violated also.

    Hotspot media who insist they want to pay me only 150 pounds for 2 days shooting of a ryan gosling lookalike in australia violated the agreement.
    They jointly marked some images copyright robbie merritt/hotspot media then started selling the images all over the world , yes washingto post, new york times etc.
    just google Ryan Gosling look a like grant Hazell.
    it is disgusting how thousands of images all over the world have appeared without credits or payments and now gettys is selling images with photographer lusted as hotspot media. this was an exclusive shoot .
    Not one cent has been paid to Grant or myself.
    Hotspot have made threats to grant to tell me to back off or future payments may be effected, they have emailed me stating they own joint ownership of images as they asked me to shoot them??? they broke the agreement.

    not happy .. how does media get away with this time and time again.

  6. Andrew Prokos Photography Says:

    A victory for the photographer, and hopefully a reminder to all that copyright infringement can be costly. It’s good to see that the jury awarded significant damages in this case, unlike prior cases where the photographer was awarded only a token amount.

  7. Chicago Photographer Says:

    This is a great example of why as photographers we must retain our copyright, instead of letting AP, Getty and other wire/stock agencies own these images for a minuscule day rate and pay us a fraction of what the images actually make for these companies.

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  12. Philippe Says:

    Always nice to see David triumph over Goliath. Hopefully it sends a message to the big agencies that they can’t get away with copyright infringement. Great day for us.

  13. Chris Says:

    Robbie, you may want to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/stolenphotos. They have resources to help people in your situation.