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April 2nd, 2014

In Copyright Infringement Case, A Defendant Ends Up Owning Disputed Photo

Desmond Howard's iconic Heisman Trophy pose. Shot by Brian Masck. Now owned by Desmond Howard

Desmond Howard’s iconic Heisman Trophy pose. Previously ©Brian Masck. Now ©Desmond Howard.

Former football star Desmond Howard, the subject of a well-known photograph and a defendant in a copyright claim over the use of that same image, will end up owning the copyright to the image as part of a settlement with the photographer who shot it.

That photographer, Brian Masck of Linden, Michigan, is still pursuing infringement claims against Getty Images, Sports Illustrated, Nissan, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and others.

Masck confirms that he agreed yesterday to settle his infringement claim against Howard by transferring copyrights to the image over to Howard. In exchange, Masck got “a very generous royalty agreement on [Howard's] uses of the picture, including at [public] appearances by Howard,” according to his attorney, Tom Blaske.

“This allows [Howard] to use his favorite photo of himself and make money on it,” Masck told PDN. Blaske adds that Howard “has more resources to best use this historic photo” and thereby ensure that it “remain[s] part of the cultural currency.”

The photo in question shows Howard striking an iconic Heisman Trophy pose after scoring a touchdown against Ohio State University, when he was playing for the University of Michigan. Masck shot the image in 1991 as a freelancer, and licensed it to Sports Illustrated for publication.

SI allegedly never returned the original 35mm transparency to Masck; it ended up in the Allsport archive, and finally in digital format on Getty’s web site around 2005. From there, it “traveled through sports memorabilia channels” onto merchandise sold through retailers, Masck says, and it also appeared in Nissan ads published in Sports Illustrated.

Masck sued in January, 2013, claiming infringement against Howard for unauthorized use of the photo on Howard’s website. Masck claimed unauthorized use by other defendants for distributing the photo and using it in ads without permission.

But Howard counter-sued Masck for unauthorized commercial use of Howard’s name and likeness on a website called TheTrophyPose.com. Masck used that site to sell products featuring the image, including framed prints and life-size, cut-out stand up. He splashed Howard’s name all over the site, confusing visitors into thinking Desmond Howard was behind the site and its products, according to Howard’s counter-claim.

Masck says he’s prohibited by the settlement agreement with Howard from disclosing the financial details. But he says Howard, a TV football commentator who uses photos for publicity and marking, wanted to buy all rights to Masck’s photo several years ago. “At the right price and right terms I was ready to entertain that,” Masck says.

They couldn’t reach an agreement, however.

“What spurred the lawsuit was, after I had sent Howard a print [during their early negotiations] as an example of what the picture could look like, and he took that picture and put it up on his web site,” Masck explains. “That picture had some tells in it. I digitally altered it so I could track it.”

With a trial date approaching, they resumed negotiations and finally reached an agreement.

Meanwhile, Masck is trying to negotiate settlements with Nissan, Sports Illustrated and the other defendants before the case goes to trial. They tried unsuccessfully to have Masck’s claims thrown out on the grounds that he hasn’t done enough over the years to assert his copyrights to the image.

(Editor’s note: This story has been altered from its original version, which included two quotes from Brian Masck that he has asked PDN to remove.)

February 24th, 2014

Nikon Announces Details for New 16.2MP D4S Flagship Full-Frame Digital SLR

Nikon-D4s_58_1.4_front-1Nikon unveiled its new D4S flagship digital SLR tonight, which seems, on paper, to be a minor upgrade to the previous model. (PDN was pre-briefed on the Nikon D4S, under NDA, prior to tonight’s launch but we were not given any hands-on time with the camera.) Like the D4, which was introduced in 2012, the new D4S uses a 16.2-megapixel, FX-format (full-frame) sensor, which Nikon describes as “newly designed.”

The revamped imaging chip in the D4S has an expanded ISO range, going all the way up to ISO 409,600 (Hi-4), which should be able to let it capture visible subject matter in near total darkness for forensic photography and other scientific applications. That extremely high ISO range could also, potentially, have photojournalistic applications such as war photography when flash is not permitted or advisable.

The Nikon D4S also has a new EXPEED 4 image processing engine designed to cut down on image noise when shooting at high ISOs in low light, and for better HD video quality and improved overall performance speed. The Nikon D4S can shoot at 11 frames per second with full autofocus (AF) and auto exposure (AE). (The previous camera could shoot at 11fps but AF and AE were locked on the first frame.) Nikon says the D4S has an “overall 30% increase in processing power.”

The Nikon D4S first premiered, under glass, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, but details about the camera were not officially announced until tonight.

Read the rest of this story and see more photos of the new Nikon D4S here.

February 14th, 2014

Patrick Smith Named POYi’s 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year

©Patrick Smith

©Patrick Smith

Freelance photographer Patrick Smith has won Sports Photographer of the Year honors at the 2014 Pictures of the Year International competition (POYi). Smith won for a diverse portfolio that emphasized his NASCAR coverage, but included sports action, portraits and feature photos of athletes and fans of various sports.

National Geographic magazine has won the top prize in the Sports Story Editing category for a story titled “On the Trail with the First Skiers,” a story about skiers in a remote area of China and the clues they offer about the evolution of the sport. The story was photographed by Jonas Bendiksen.

Other categories in the 2014 POYi Sports Division contest and their first-place winners include:

Sports Action: Mark J. Terrill of Associated Press for his photograph of welterweight boxer Pablo Cesar Cano landing a punch on the face of opponent Ashley Theophane.

Sports Feature: Jabin Botsford, a student at Western Kentucky University, for an image he shot at a Kentucky high school cheerleading competition.

Recreational Sports: Alex Goodlett of the Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), for an image he shot at a high school volleyball match.

Sports Picture Story:  Daniel Ochoa De Olza for a story about bullfighting in Spain.

Judges for the Sports Division entries were James Colton, Elsa Garrison, and John McDonnell

Judging for the Reportage Division (formerly Magazine Division) entries begins tomorrow and continues through this weekend. Editing and Multimedia Division entries will be judged next week.

Related
Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

February 12th, 2014

Does The NY Times’ Sochi Photo “Firehose” Do Photogs a Disservice?

Today The New York Times launched a live stream of images from Sochi, which they’re dubbing a “Firehose.” It funnels images by Times photographers and from the paper’s wire service feeds, and evidently there will be roughly 14,000 images per day coming through the, ahem, hose.

The images are running without captions. And while there are many great photographs, there are many others that leave us to guess what’s happening in the image, and which are pretty ho-hum without context (see: athlete celebrating win, for something, who knows what?)

There are good things about the site. It has a simple design and big photos. It’s giving a lot of images that wouldn’t make it into media outlets a run in a central place. And the site is presented by United Airlines, so they aren’t just giving this away. People who love sports pictures and can’t get enough of them can watch them stream by, and so what if there are no captions? Most of them you can figure out. And it’s not as if this replaces galleries of edited and captioned pictures.

But does this diminish not only the perceived value of the images, but also the editorial selection and captioning process at a time when the public perception of photography is that it’s so abundant it’s worth very little? Maybe. The name “Firehose” seems like self-parody, an admission that the flow of images has devalued photography to the point that the Times has decided to just throw up their hands and open the valve.

Perhaps we’re making too much of this? Maybe we should sit back and let the stream wash over us? What you do you think, dear reader?

February 11th, 2014

Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson has won Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors in the 2014 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, contest organizers announced this afternoon.

“[T]he judges noted a strong balance of powerful aesthetic with solid journalistic content” in Davidson’s portfolio, POYi organizers said in a prepared statement. Her portfolio included two picture stories: “A Healing Bond,” about a girl from Afghanistan who came to the US for medical treatment; and “LA’s Shooting Season,” about the trauma team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Runners up for Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors were James Oatway of The Sunday Times (Johannesburg) and Lacy Atkins of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Winners of all the POYi Newspaper Division categories were identified by PDN earlier today.

Meanwhile, POYi judges also selected winners in two Sports Division categories today. They include Alex Goodlett of the Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), who won first prize in the Recreational Sports category; and Daniel Ochoa De Olza won first prize for Sports Picture Story.

Related:
POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

February 5th, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers at Sochi is True

(The following op-ed was written by photographer Jeff Cable who is in Sochi, Russia covering the 2014 Winter Olympics. The story originally appeared on Cable’s blog in a slightly different form. You can follow Cable’s experiences at the Winter Olympics on his Facebook page.)

By Jeff Cable

2014_Winter_Olympics_logo.mYou know all those articles that talk about the problems at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Well, guess what…they are all true.

Yesterday, my day started off great. The drive to the Moscow airport was perfect, with little congestion and Wi-Fi in the taxi. I got to the airport in Moscow and navigated the system really well, running into some friends from Canon, and I even managed to get my camera bag on carry-on this time.

The flight to Sochi was smooth and we arrived early. I got all my luggage, got my credentials blessed at the airport, found the right press bus and I was feeling great.

Then we got to the “hotel” and I use the word loosely.

We arrived at a cluster of 16 buildings that look like dormitories. There was no reception area for us to check in, there was just one building which had a large dirty room with people scrambling to get us situated.

They obviously did not have rooms assigned to anyone as each of us that showed up were given successive hotel rooms, me in 256, the next person in 257, etc. So my new neighbors and I went up to the 4th floor to our rooms and were shocked when we saw our living space.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Remember, these are brand new buildings! The floors are so filthy that I don’t think they were ever vacuumed after the construction was done. There is almost no furniture in the room, and what is there is almost unusable.

There are small TVs in the rooms, but they do not work. There are no phones in the rooms and worse yet, there is NO Internet at all. No hard wired and no wireless. I am writing this blog from a downstairs common room in a different building (with 15 other pissed off media), and I swear the Internet is running at dial-up speeds.

How is it that a country that spends almost $50 billion on the Olympics can end up with accommodations like this? Seriously, it is embarrassing. If I told you how much I paid for this “hotel room” you would choke.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

The good news is that I do have four walls around me, and I do have a bed. I am not sure if I have hot water yet, since I tried running the sink to get hot water and it didn’t work. I found a lady who looked like she might work here and she told me to let it run for 10 minutes. It might get warm then.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

I visited some friends at the Main Press Center tonight (which is an amazing building, by the way) and they were all laughing about the showers with no shower curtains, the cleaning service which does not exist, and the lack of communications in 20 press buildings.

I even heard a story of one of the guys from the USOC who showed up to his hotel in the mountains, only to find a construction site. So I guess I should be happy to have a room.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Starting in a couple of days, I will spend very little time in this building, as the Olympics will be all consuming. But for now, it is incredibly frustrating.

I would post more photos but the Internet is so bad that myself and 15 other photographers are just trying to post text.

Read Cable’s follow-up post on Sochi here.

October 23rd, 2013

NFL, Getty and AP Hit With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Seven photographer are suing the National Football League and two image distributors–Getty Images and Associated Press (AP)–for copyright infringement over widespread use of their images in NFL ads, products and promotions without fair compensation, according to an October 21 report from Courthouse News Service.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, is a legal tangle because Getty and AP represented the photographers, and were authorized to license their work at the time of the alleged infringements. But the case boils down to allegations that Getty and AP breached their fiduciary duty to the photographers because of conflicts of interest.

Both distributors had incentive to curry favor with the NFL in order to gain and hang onto an exclusive contract to license images of NFL events to third parties for commercial use. Getty won the contract in 2007, then lost the contract to AP in 2009.

According to the lawsuit, the photographers “recently discovered that both Getty Images and AP granted the NFL nearly unfettered access to plaintiffs’ photo collections and, either expressly or by inaction, allowed the NFL to make free or ‘complimentary’ use of plaintiffs’ copyrighted photos.”

According to the Courthouse News Service report, the photographers are also accusing Getty of using bare-knuckle tactics to keep them from moving their images to AP, after AP won the exclusive NFL contract in 2009. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that Getty threatened to stop marketing all of their sports images–including Major League Baseball photos–for commercial use, if the photographers moved their NFL images to AP.

Photographer Paul Spinelli is the lead plaintiff in the case. The other photographer plaintiffs are Paul Jasienski, David Stluka, Thomas E. Witte, David Drapkin, George Newman Lowrance and Scott Boehm.

AP and Getty both declined PDN’s request to comment about the lawsuit.

October 9th, 2013

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue a Key to Walter Iooss’s Access to Top Athletes

iooss coverWhen you’re trying to get access to top professional athletes, there’s no calling card like a steady gig shooting swimsuit models for Sports Illustrated.

Walter Iooss Jr, whom we interviewed in our October issue about his close professional relationship with basketball legend Michael Jordan, has been photographing sports and athletes for 50 years, and photographing the models for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue for about 40 years.

“You have to ingratiate yourself [with athletes],” Iooss told us. “I’ve done it for so long, so my reputation helps me. They [star athletes] already think you can do something, so you’re not wasting their time.

Then he adds, “The swimsuit issue is obviously a big help with all these horny athletes. They love that. It’s remarkable how I could walk into a clubhouse and photograph anyone, as long as I give them a phone number of someone (in the SI Swimsuit issue).”

Not that he ever does that. “I’m not going to give it to them. They have their people contact the [model's] people.”

But he shakes his head with wonder. “They think I can pimp for them. Some days I feel like a 69-year-old pimp. It’s disgraceful that they need me to find a woman.”

See more about Iooss and his work with Michael Jordan at PDNOnline.

August 26th, 2013

Reuters Phasing Out Use of Freelance Sports Photographers in North America

Reuters is phasing out its use of contract freelance sports photographers in North America and will instead rely on USA Today Sports Images, a wire service, for sideline coverage of major professional sports and some college games. “I can confirm that we are expanding our ongoing relationship with USA Today Sports and will be adding a subset of their North American Sports photography to our file,” a Reuters spokesperson told PDN.

NPPA first reported this change at Reuters on Friday. The NPPA report quotes an unnamed source at Sports Illustrated and a freelance photographer in Toronto, Jon Blacker. Blacker told NPPA that he spoke with Peter Jones, the North American Sports Photo Editor at Thomson Reuters on Friday morning, as he was making calls to inform their freelance sports photographers of the change. “He said it was purely a business decision, and that their business plan calls for using the money that Reuters saves on covering sports to re-invest in photo covering more news,” Blacker said.

USATSI is owned by Gannett, which purchased the company in August 2011.

(via NPPA)

May 21st, 2013

The Highs and Lows of Photographing an Italian Cycling Competition

© Manual For Speed

© Manual For Speed

Manual for Speed (MFS), a website covering professional cycling created by writer/photographer Daniel Wakefield Pasley and photographer Emiliano Granado, is currently featuring daily reports from the Giro d’Italia, a cycling race through Italy that dips into neighboring European countries.

Granado and Pasley created MFS in 2011 with sponsorship from Castelli, a cycling apparel company. Pasley’s reporting on the Giro d’Italia has included access to two cycling teams that Castelli sponsors: Garmin-Sharp and Team Colombia, the Colombian national team.

MFS’s coverage of the Giro d’Italia is unique not only for the quality of photography—action, landscapes, crowd portraits, and a typology of cycling team buses, among other goodies—but also for its diaristic tone. Pasley’s account of the highs and lows of photographing a month-long sporting event is honest and highly entertaining.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to persevere through maddening daily logistical challenges, to “lite-stalk” professional athletes, to be heckled by spectators, to drop one’s expensive camera in a puddle, or to see Italian children cursing in English at a race helicopter, the daily reports by Pasley are worth a read.

Or you can just look at the pictures.