April 7th, 2014

US Supreme Court Declines New Mexico Wedding Photog’s Discrimination Case

A New Mexico photographer who has been held liable for violating state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding has been turned away by the US Supreme Court, where she had sought a review of her case.

Elaine Huguenin, owner of Elane Photography of Albuquerque, had asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a series of lower court rulings that found her in violation New Mexico human rights laws for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The high court declined today without comment to hear Elane Photography’s appeal, effectively upholding three lower court rulings against her.

Huguenin had refused for religious reasons in 2006 to photograph the commitment ceremony of Vanessa Willock and her partner, Misty Pascottini. Willock filed a complaint to the The New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which ruled in 2008 that Huguenin had violated the state’s anti-dscrimination law.

Huguenin appealed to a New Mexico district court, the New Mexico Court of Appeals, and the New Mexico State Supreme Court. All three upheld the NMHRC ruling.

In appealing to the US Supreme Court for a hearing, Huguenin argued that she should be free under the First Amendment to express herself as a photographer, and that any compulsion to shoot same-sex weddings under New Mexico’s anti-discrimination laws amounted to government-compelled speech that violated her civil rights.

In refusing to hear the case, the US Supreme Court effectively upheld the decision last summer by New Mexico State Supreme Court justice Edward L. Chávez.

He wrote in that decision:  “A commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples.”

Chávez also said in his decision that New Mexico’s human rights law doesn’t compel Elane Photography “to either speak a government-mandated message or to publish the speech of another.”And he said those offering services to the public do not have to give up their First Amendment rights under the the state human rights law because “[t]hey may, for example, post a disclaimer on their website or in their studio advertising that they oppose same-sex marriage but that they comply with applicable anti-discrimination laws.”

Related:
Photographer Who Refused to Shoot Same-Sex Wedding Loses Another Appeal
NM Wedding Photogs Can’t Discriminate Against Same Sex Couples, Court Confirms

April 6th, 2014

Sony Announces 4K-Shooting, Full Frame 12.2MP A7S Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Sony just took the wraps off a brand new full-frame interchangeable camera that can also shoot 4K video: the 12.2-megapixel Sony A7S. The Sony A7S joins the 36.4-megapixel A7R and 24.3-megapixel Sony A7, which were announced last year and are the first two mirrorless cameras with 35mm sensors.

Sony-A7SWhat differentiates the Sony A7S from those two models — and just about every other full-frame model on the market — is its ability to shoot 4K video. It’s no coincidence that this 4K-shooting camera was announced right before the NAB show in Las Vegas, which is traditionally the domain of high-end video products.

The Sony A7S also features a BIONZ X image processor, which lets it shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 409,600.

Read the rest of this story on the new Sony A7S on PDNOnline. 

April 4th, 2014

Appeals Court Upholds Copyright Infringement Damages Award to Louis Psihoyos

A federal appeals court in New York has refused a textbook publisher’s request to reduce a $130,750 award that a jury granted to photographer Louis Psihoyos last year for copyright infringement.

Psihoyos sued publisher John Wiley & Sons in 2011 for infringement of eight of his photographs. Claims over four of the images were dismissed before trial, but a jury found Wiley liable for willful infringement of two of the remaining images and awarded statutory damages totaling $130,000. At the same time, the jury found Wiley liable for non-willful infringement of a third image, and awarded $750. It concluded that Wiley’s use of the remaining image was not infringing.

Wiley appealed, arguing that the trial court erred because it refused to consider whether the jury award was reasonably related to Psihoyos’s actual loss. Wiley called it “an epitome of a run-away award” in one of its appeal briefs.

But the appeals court rejected Wiley’s argument, saying, “Although revenue lost is one factor to consider, we have not held that there must be a direct correlation between statutory damages and actual damages.”

The appeals court went on to say, “The District Court concluded that several of the relevant factors could explain the jury’s award based on the evidence…in particular, the evidence supported a finding of willfulness and that Wiley earned substantial profits, and the jury may have viewed Wiley as a repeat infringer in need of deterrence.

“In sum, we discern no error” in the District Court’s denial of Wiley’s request to vacate the award or grant a new trial, the appeals court said.

The appeals court also rejected Wiley’s assertion that the trial court should have thrown out Psihoyos’ claims on the grounds that the statute of limitations on those claims had expired.

The appeals court said that the Copyright Act’s statute of limitations “did not bar any of Psihoyos’s infringement claims” because he filed those claims within three years of discovering the infringements, as the law requires.

Wiley had argued that the clock for the three-year statute of limitations begins at the instant of infringement, not at the discovery of that infringement by the copyright holder.

Although the appeals ruling was an overall victory for Psihoyos, he also lost an appeal to restore his infringement claims for the four images that the trial court dismissed from the case.  The lower court dismissed those claims because Psihoyos  didn’t register the images before he filed his infringement claims, as required by law.

The appeals court said the trial court was correct to dismiss those claims because of Psihoyos’s failure to register them prior to filing suit.

April 4th, 2014

AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

Anja Niedringhaus in 2005. ©Associated Press/Peter Dejong

Anja Niedringhaus in 2005. ©Associated Press/Peter Dejong

Associated Press staff photographer Anja Niedringhaus was shot and  killed while covering the run-up to elections in Afghanistan, the Associated Press announced this morning. Regional correspondent Kathy Gannon was injured in the same attack and is undergoing treatment at a hospital, the wire service said.

“[I]t appears they were targeted and attacked,” AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt said a statement.

AP says Niedringhaus and Gannon were shot by an Afghan police officer while traveling with a convoy of election workers who were delivering ballots in the town of Khost, near the border with Pakistan. The convoy was protected by Afghan soldiers and police, according to AP. Gannon and Niedringhaus were in their own car with a driver and another unidentified freelance journalist who witnessed the attack.

“As they were sitting in the car waiting for the convoy to move, a unit commander named Naqibullah walked up to the car, yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ — God is Great — and opened fire on them in the back seat with his AK-47. He then surrendered to the other police and was arrested,” AP says in its report of the incident.

“Those of you who worked with Anja know what a life force she was: spirited, intrepid and fearless, with a raucous laugh that we will always remember,” Pruitt says in his statement about the attack.

Niedringhaus, who was 48, was based in Geneva. She joined AP in 2002, and had worked throughout the Middle East, as well as in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was among the team of eleven AP photographers who shared 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for coverage of Iraq.

April 3rd, 2014

In Fight Over Anti-Gay Ad, Misappropriation Claims Are Dismissed

©Kristina Hill

©Kristina Hill

A federal court in Colorado has ruled that the unauthorized use of a gay couple’s engagement photo in a political attack ad was protected by the First Amendment. But the judge in the case rejected a request by defendants to throw out the photographer’s copyright infringement claims on fair use grounds.

Photographer Kristina Hill and her wedding photography clients, Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere, sued conservative advocacy group Public Advocate of the United States (PAUS) in 2012 for unauthorized use of an engagement photo of Edwards and Privitere in political attack ads.

The ads, showing an image by Hill of Edwards and Privitere kissing each other, were part of a PAUS campaign to defeat two Colorado lawmakers who supported same-sex marriage.

Hill sued for copyright infringement because PAUS used the photo without her permission. Edwards and Priviter claimed misappropriation of their likeness for commercial purposes, in violation of their privacy and Colorado’s right-of-publicity laws.

gay-attack-adBut the court has thrown out the couple’s misappropriation claims on the grounds that the political ads were “primarily non-commercial,” and that they “reasonably relate to a legitimate matter of public concern”–same-sex marriage. Therefore, free speech rights of the First Amendment barred the couple’s misappropriation claim, federal judge Wiley Y. Daniel wrote in the decision.

However, Judge Daniel rejected a motion by PAUS to dismiss Hill’s copyright infringement on fair use grounds, ruling that the ads didn’t pass the standard four-pronged test for fair use.

The first factor, relating to the character and purpose of the unauthorized use,  went against the defendants for two reasons. Language of the copyright law protecting unauthorized use for educational purposes “suggests that the educational purposes contemplated by the statute’s drafters relates to schooling, not mailers circulated during an election,” the judge wrote.

Furthermore, he explained in his decision, “while the defendants placed the lifted portion [of the image] in a different background and placed a caption on the mailer, such actions cannot be characterized as ‘highly
transformative.’”

Other prongs of the fair use test also went against the defendants. For instance, the image is a creative work, not merely informational, which mitigated against a fair use finding, Judge Daniel said. And he rejected the defendants’ argument that they used only used a small part of Hill’s image, countering that they used the qualitatively most significant part, which shows the subjects kissing.

“I find that the plaintiffs have stated a plausible copyright infringement claim under the Copyright Act,” the judge concluded.

The ruling allows Hill to proceed with her copyright infringement claims, and was not a final decision on those claims.

A trial date has been set for January 26, 2015.

Related:
Anti-Gay Group Sued for Unauthorized Use of Photo in Attack Ads

Anti-Gay Group Pleads Fair Use, Free Speech in Infringement Case

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.)

April 2nd, 2014

PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

Jim Estrin: 6 Tips for Emerging Photojournalists from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

James Estrin, founder and co-editor of Lens, the popular New York Times photography blog, talks about how to launch a successful career as a photojournalist. His tips and insight cover how to choose meaningful projects, the importance of photojournalistic process, and practical advice about portfolios, mentors, and relationship-building with editors and peers.

Related:
PDN Video: Is Your Photo Project a Contender for Lens Blog?
PDN Video: How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
PDN’s 30 Photographers Provide Career Tips to Aspiring Photographers
PDN’s 30 2014: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch

April 2nd, 2014

Alexia Foundation, Open Society Calling for Submissions

The Alexia Foundation and the Open Society Foundations separately announced calls for submissions from photographers yesterday.

The Alexia Foundation issued a call for entries for its 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant, which will provide a $25,000 grant for the production of a project “on a significant issue involving and affecting women,” the foundation said in its announcement.

“Unlike the first Women’s Initiative grant, which specifically focused on abuse of women in the United States, this call for entries is intended to permit the photographer to propose a serious documentary photographic or multimedia project encompassing any issue involving women anywhere in the world,” the foundation says.

The deadline for grant applications is June 30, 2014. More details are available at the Alexia Foundation website.

Meanwhile, The Open Society Documentary Photography Project is calling for photo projects for an upcoming group exhibition on surveillance. The exhibition will include the work of five or six photographers, according to Open Society Foundations (OSF).

The deadline for applications is May 1, 2014.

“We are seeking photo-based projects that explore surveillance-related issues from a variety of perspectives. We encourage applicants to interpret the theme broadly,” OSF said in the announcement.

Called Moving Walls 22: Watching You, Watching Me: Photography in an Age of Surveillance, the exhibition is scheduled to run from October 29, 2014, to May 2015 at Open Society Foundations–New York. See the OSF website for complete application information.

March 31st, 2014

Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

The homepage of The Ones We Love, featuring a photo by Tatjana Suskic.

The homepage of The Ones We Love, featuring a photo by Tatjana Suskic.

On The Ones We Love, a web-based project created and curated by Lindley Warren, photographers share images of “people they love, cherish, and find inspiration within.” The site features work by photographers from all over the world, whose subjects range from lovers to friends to family members. The images are intimate and revealing—an exchange of looks, a laugh, an adventure, some nudity. At the top of each entry is a short text from the photographer, which is sometimes descriptive, other times abstract.

Warren launched the site earlier this year with work from ten photographers, and it’s grown since then to feature the work of more than 70. She posts daily, and receives a few submissions each day. Warren says she is trying “to create a quiet space,” with the project, “a place where people can go and be there with the photographs and be there with the intimacy of it.”

This is the second iteration of The Ones We Love. Warren initially created the site in 2008 for a class project when she was a 19-year-old art student. She reached out to a number of photographers and her correspondence with them inspired her to create the site. Warren wanted to “connect and to see a deeper part of these photographers’ lives,” she says.

Warren became interested in web-based curating after getting into photography as a teen. She wanted to connect with other aspiring artists. “Curating a website is a really great way to communicate with people, get to know them, get familiar with their work, and get familiar with work that you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explains.

Part of the reason she re-launched the site was that people continued to ask about it and tell her that it had an effect on them. There was a lot of support for the first iteration of The Ones We Love, Warren says, but as a busy student she didn’t quite “comprehend that it actually meant something to other people.” Since then, the number of web-based curatorial projects has grown exponentially, and she’s observed and been inspired by those sites, which gave her a better understanding of how viewers might see The Ones We Love. “Now when people say ‘I really like your project,’ it means a lot more, because I understand more fully on a personal level what they mean.”

March 31st, 2014

Spanish Journalists Freed After 194 Days in Captivity in Syria

Spanish photojournalist Ricardo Garcia-Vilanova and reporter Javier Espinosa were freed by their Syrian captors Saturday night, 194 days after they were kidnapped while attempting to cover the Syrian civil war for the Spanish daily El Mundo, according to reports by NPPA and other news outlets.

Espinosa is a staff reporter for the Spanish daily El Mundo. Garcia-Vilanova, a freelancer, was on assignment with Espinosa when they were abducted by an Al-Qaeda affiliates at a checkpoint, shortly after crossing into Syria from Turkey last September 16.

Both men were reportedly in good health when they were released to Turkish authorities, and have since been re-united with their families in Spain.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Syria ranks as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists, who “are targeted, kidnapped by all sides in the conflict.”

Related:
Spanish Photographer and Reporter Abducted by Al-Qaeda Affiliate in Syria
Freelance Photographer Killed in Syria