August 14th, 2014

Judge Upholds $1.2 Million Verdict in Morel v. AFP Copyright Case

A federal judge has upheld a $1.2 million jury award in favor of photographer Daniel Morel, after determining that there was sufficient evidence presented at the trial last year to support the verdict.

Morel won $1.2 million in damages after a federal jury determined that Getty and AFP willfully violated his copyrights by uploading eight of his exclusive news images of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and distributing them without his permission. The award also included an additional $20,000 damages for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Getty and AFP had appealed the $1.2 million award on the grounds that there was not enough evidence presented at the trial to establish willful copyright infringement. They had asked the court to vacate the jury’s finding of willful infringement, reduce the award to Morel, or grant a new trial.

A federal judge rejected the appeal.

“There was evidence from which the jury could have concluded that the defendant’s infringement (and particularly AFP’s) was not just willful but reflected a gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders,” US District Court Judge Alison Nathan wrote in a decision handed down yesterday. She added, “In light of all the consideration that the jury was entitled to consider, [reduction] of the $1.2 million statutory damages award is not required.

“The evidence was plainly sufficient for the jury to conclude that AFP’s infringement was willful under either an actual knowledge or reckless disregard theory,” Nathan said. She said the evidence for willfulness on Getty’s part was “somewhat thin” in comparison to the evidence against AFP. But she went on to say that the evidence of Getty’s willfulness “was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.”

Morel had uploaded his images to Twitter, offering to license them to news outlets. The images were stolen and re-distributed by another Twitter account holder. Judge Nathan cited evidence presented at trial that Vincent Amalvy, AFP’s  Director of Photography for the Americas,  knew or should have known that the images were actually Morel’s, and that AFP didn’t have permission to distribute them.

The evidence against Getty for willful infringement was that it left Morel’s images on its web site under a false credit for more than two weeks after AFP sent a “kill notice” telling Getty to remove the images.

The award was the maximum amount of statutory damages possible under the law.

AFP and Getty had asked the court to reduce the $1.2 million award on the grounds that it was based on a “speculative” figure of actual damages amounting to $275,000 in lost sales. Judge Nathan said that on the basis of actual downloads (1,000 or more) of the image and sale prices, the actual damage estimate was reasonable. But she went on to say that juries aren’t required in any case to base statutory awards on actual damage estimates.

She also rejected arguments that the $1.2 million statutory award was “instinsically excessive.” Noting that courts defer to the prerogative of juries to set damage awards and rarely set them aside unless they “shock the judicial conscience and constitute of denial of justice,” Nathan said AFP’s actions in particular could be seen as “gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders” and let the jury award stand.

At the same time, Nathan upheld a $10,000 jury award against AFP for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations, while vacating a $10,000 award for DMCA violations against Getty.

The DMCA makes it unlawful to intentionally remove or alter copyright management information, or to knowingly provide or distribute false copyright management information with intent to conceal infringement.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Vincent Amalvy, the AFP Director of Photography, knew that Morel’s images were falsely credited to another Twitter user, but  distributed the pictures with the false credit anyway, Judge Nathan wrote in her decision.

Getty violated the DMCA by continuing to distribute the images under a false credit, after receiving notice from AFP to remove the images, the judge said. But Getty was not liable under a DMCA provision for distributing the images with knowledge before the fact that the image credits had been illegally altered.

Related Articles:

Morel v. AFP Copyright Verdict: Defense Strategy to Devalue Photos and Vilify Photographer Backfires

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

August 13th, 2014

AP Photographer Injured in Gaza Explosion that Killed Videojournalist, Translator

The Associated Press (AP) reports that video journalist Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed this morning when an ordinance exploded in Gaza in the town of Beit Labiya. Hatem Moussa, an AP photographer was “badly injured” in the blast. AP spokesperson Paul Colford says, “Hatem is being treated for his injuries.”

The unexploded ordinance was believed to have been dropped during recent airstrikes by Israel in Gaza. Gaza police engineers were trying to deactivate the explosive when it blew up. Three police engineers were killed in the explosion, along with the journalists.

For more details, including information on the careers of Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, see AP’s story.

Related articles
Photographer Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Gaza

August 12th, 2014

Alejandro Cegarra Wins 2014 Ian Parry Scholarship

© Alejandro Cegarra

© Alejandro Cegarra

Photographer Alejandro Cegarra, 24, has been awarded the 2014 Ian Parry Scholarship for “The Other Side of the Tower,” his project on people living illegally in the Tower of David, an unfinished skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela.  Cegarra will receive 3,500 pounds (approximately $5,450 US) and equipment from Canon. He is also automatically named to the shortlist of photographers selected for Joop Swart Masterclass, conducted by World Press Photo.

The Ian Parry Scholarship, now in its twenty-fifth year, was named for the Sunday Times of London photographer who was killed at the age of 24 while covering the Romanian Revolution. The scholarship supports projects by full-time photography students and photographers under 24.

Aidan Sullivan, founder and director of the Ian Parry Scholarship, says Cegarra’s work on the Tower of David is “in the finest photographic tradition of the scholarship.” In addition to the winner, one “highly commended” photographer and two “commended” photographers were also announced. They will receive 500 pounds (approximately $780 US). Save the Children will offer one of the finalists an all-expense-paid assignment.

This year’s “highly commended” photographer is Rahul Talukder of Bangladesh. Mario Wezel of Germany is the “commended” photographer.

For the first time, the jurors for the Ian Parry Scholarship also gave a Judges Special Award: It was awarded to Hosam Katan of Syria. Rebecca McClelland, deputy director of the scholarship, noted that for the first time, judges received numerous portfolios from photographers in Egypt and Syria.

A exhibition celebrating 25 years of scholarship winners will be shown at this year’s Visa Pour L’Image Festival in Perpignan, France.
Information on the Ian Parry Scholarship can be found at www.ianparry.org

Related Articles

Farzana Hossen Wins 2013 Ian Parry Scholarship for Project on Violence Against Women

Adrian Fussell Wins 2012 Ian Parry Scholarship

August 12th, 2014

Photographer Reported Missing in Eastern Ukraine

© Rossiya Segodnya/images by Andrei Stenin

© Rossiya Segodnya/images by Andrei Stenin

Andrei Stenin, a photojournalist for the Russian state agency Rossiya Segodnya (also called RIA Novosti) has been missing since August 5, when he last reported to his agency while covering the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and military forces supporting the Ukraine government near the cities of Donetsk and Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine. According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other news organizations Rossiya Segodnya has reported, citing an anonymous source, that  Stenin is being held by the Ukrainian security service (SBU). SBU denies the allegation.

Rossiya Segodnya has launched a publicity campaign to lobby for his release. Dmitry Kiselev, the head of the agency, told the press that Stenin’s work has been “purely humanitarian in nature.”

Stenin’s photos are being displayed at the Rossiya Segodnya headquarters in Moscow, and the agency has posted a gallery of photos he’s taken in Ukraine since January.

The images Stenin last filed with his agency showed armed combat between separatist militia and Ukrainian government forces, and the capture of Ukrainian soldiers in Shakhtyorsk, outside Donetsk.

August 8th, 2014

Shark Peak: When Anti-Cliché Photos Turn Out To Be Clichés

Tristan-McConnell-FBMogadishu is to sharks carried on shoulders as Havana is to vintage sedans: No photographer who goes to that location can resist photographing the same photogenic subjects.

Tristan McConnell (@t_mcconnell), a Nairobi-based foreign correspondent for GlobalPost, Monocle and the London Times, posted a comment on his Facebook page the other day that pointed out the difficulty, in today’s image-saturated world, of finding a photo subject that hasn’t already been widely seen. He posted the comment, along with examples he’s collected, in an album titled “Mogadishu Fish on the Head Photographic Meme.”

McConnell, who has worked with many photographers and–when tight budgets require it– also shoots photos for his own stories, suggests that perhaps all these similar shots were the result of photographers struggling to avoid a different cliché: The African-capital-as-disaster cliché.

McConnell writes: “The image has to say ‘decades of conflict/failed state’ but in an oblique way, so you head to seaside Hamar Weyne, the old, war-damaged colonial neighborhood.”

He continues, “And then you see it. The perfect shot: A fisherman strides towards you with the catch of the day, a fish so big it’s draped across his head and shoulders. Behind him is the wreckage of the city. It’s perfect!

“You press the shutter. Done. Trouble is every other photographer has done it, too.”

Among the dozen examples McConnell shows are Feisal Omar’s photo which won 1st prize in the 2011 World Press Photo competition’s Daily Life/singles category,

© Feisal Omar

© Feisal Omar

and Michelle Shephard’s 2011 photo published in the Toronto Star:

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

He could also have included this photo by an AFP/Getty photographer, published last year in the Daily Mail .

© AFP/Getty Images

© AFP/Getty Images

Or Jan Grarup’s famous image, published as part of a story in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (as well as in PDN.)

© Jan Grarup

© Jan Grarup

This put us in mind of a familiar dilemma: Is it better for  photographers to ignore other photographers’ work — to insure they’re never imitating anyone, and remain happily unaware that the what they’ve just photographed has been photographed before? Or, as many clients suggest, should they try to see as much work as they can, either to avoid duplicating what’s been done, or to know the standards they need to meet if they want to find a new view of a subject that others have already discovered?

August 6th, 2014

That Monkey Selfie: Who Owns The Copyright to It?

Wikimedia Commons and photographer David Slater appear to be headed for court over who owns the rights to a selfie shot by a macaque monkey that grabbed Slater’s camera. The photo went viral last week.

The Telegraph now reports that Wikimedia, a collection of 22 million public domain images, has refused Slater’s demand to remove the photo from its web site. Slater is preparing to sue, the newspaper says.

Wikimedia’s legal defense, effectively outlined in the caption it reportedly posted with the photo, is that the author of a photo owns copyright, not the camera owner;  that only people can own copyright, and monkeys aren’t people; therefore, the photo in question is ineligible for copyright by anyone, so it’s in the public domain.

This is the kind of copyright case we were never expecting to see. But now we’re wondering: if corporations have the rights of persons, why not monkeys? Are there any armchair attorneys out there who want to make a copyright argument on the monkey’s behalf?

August 5th, 2014

Photogs Marcus Bleasdale, Steve Ringman Win Environmental Journalism Awards

The Society of Environmental Journalists announced their 2014 awards for reporting on the environment yesterday. Seattle Times staffer Steve Ringman and VII’s Marcus Bleasdale were among the honorees.

Ringman was recognized for his work with writer Craig Allen Welch on “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn,” the Seattle Times‘ multi-part investigation of ocean acidification and its impacts on the Pacific Ocean. (PDN spoke with Ringman and the Seattle Times about the creation of the “Sea Change” for our December 2013 issue. Read that feature here.) Ringman and Welch received the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting for a large market publication, the top award given by SEJ.

Bleasdale received the award for Outstanding Environmental Photojournalism for “The Price of Precious,” his story on conflict mineral mining in Congo, which was published by National Geographic. (PDN featured Bleasdale’s long-term project on conflict minerals in our December 2013 issue. Read that story here.)

Second place in the Environmental Photojournalism category went to J. Carl Ganter, Matt Black and Brian Lehmann for their photographs examining the effects of water scarcity, published in Circle of Blue. Jenny E. Ross received a third place mention for her photo essay on polar bears, published by Natural History magazine.

The awards will be given out during a ceremony at the SEJ’s annual conference, which takes place in New Orleans in early September.

Related: MSNBC.com: A Place for Serious Photo Stories (Subscribers only)

August 4th, 2014

In Image Library for American Airlines, Erik Almås Discovers His Other Style

It’s a challenge for photographers to evolve creatively and keep up with the changing tastes and expectations of the market, while maintaining their brand identity. But photographer Erik Almås happened upon a new style while shooting for American Airlines, and he’s now using it to reposition himself.

Over the past 18 months, he has shot a number of assignments for the airline’s print campaigns and corporate image library, photographing everything from interiors to runway and in-flight beauty shots of jets. The shoots included two days with a Boeing 777-200. It was a big deal for the airline to take the plane out of service, Almås says, so he took advantage of it. “I had the camera going whenever I had the chance,” he tells PDN through his rep, Bennie de Grasse at Vaughan Hannigan.

An image for American Airlines' branding campaign. ©Erik Almås

An image for American Airlines branding campaign. ©Erik Almås

The images he produced for AA campaigns are tightly controlled, and reflect the hyper-real style for which he’s known. But while he was re-visiting his AA archive in search of images for his portfolio, he discovered that he had two separate bodies of work: the “studied” work used for the AA branding, and “more random shots” that amounted to unintentional personal work. The latter are quiet, contemplative images that Almås recently described in his blog as “the moment between the moment[s]” that comprise an “alternative narrative” to the campaign images. They were “somewhat unexpected for my style of image making,” he wrote.

He’s been posting those images on his Instagram feed every time he boards a flight to an assignment, which is frequently–he traveled 270 days last year. “Instead of posting the classic pictures of clouds out of the plane window with the wing in the corner on social media I would go through the American Airlines images and post some of those instead,” he tells PDN.

©Erik Almås

©Erik Almås

The process of reviewing his files with Instagram in mind “has brought a great awareness to how I edit,” he says. And Almås and his agent are now capitalizing on his more personal style.

The interest among advertisers in an “amateur” (i.e. “snapshot”) style “is accelerating due to the advancing of smartphone and camera technology,” de Grasse explains in an e-mail. “People are beginning to get used to this look and feel,  which creates a growing need for more images for more platforms.”

Almås adds that clients now expect photographers to shoot motion, behind the scenes images, and social media content–in addition to images for print campaigns. “If I can [let clients know] that I can give them all of this as a content provider I’m in a good place for the changes we already see happening,” he says.

©Erik Almås

©Erik Almås

©Erik Almås

©Erik Almås

July 31st, 2014

Photographer Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Gaza (Update)

Rami Rayan, a photographer with the Palestine Network for Press and Media, was killed July 30 in an air strike by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, Reporters Without Borders reports.

Rayan’s network manager told Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the photographer was covering civilians shopping during what they thought was a four-hour “humanitarian window” ceasefire declared by Israel, but the Israeli military had noted it would not protect Shuja’iya and certain other areas of the city.

According to news reports, the air strike killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 200 others. At the time of the attack, Rayan was wearing a flak jacket and helmet marked “press” according to Reporters without Borders.

Rayan is the third * media worker killed since Israel began its military offensive in Gaza on July 8. Khalid Hamad, a cameraman for The Continue was killed July 20 during shelling in Shuja’iya. Hamdi Shihab, a driver for the Media 24 news agency, was killed July 9 when shells struck his vehicle which was marked “TV.”

(*Update: On July 31, Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Sameh al-Aryan , a camera operator for the al-Aqsa TV channel, run by Hamas, was killed in the same air strike in which Rayan died.)

“Israel is showing little evidence to back its claim that it tries to avoid civilian casualties, including those of journalists, in its assault on Gaza,” Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator for CPJ, said in a statement.

July 29th, 2014

How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

Editorial clients are reluctant to publicize information about rates for photo assignments. But photographers need to know who pays what, in order to figure out which clients are worth shooting for, and to help them negotiate assignment fees.

A Tumblr site called Who Pays Photographers? helps bridge the information gap with a wiki-inspired spreadsheet listing fees paid by numerous publications, both online and in print. The site also provides information about whether the client pays expenses, how long they take to pay, and what photographers like and dislike about the client. All the information is uploaded anonymously by photographers who have shot assignments for the clients.

But users, beware. The spreadsheet, which lists clients more or less in alphabetical order, is disorganized, and a challenge to scroll through (and it can’t be downloaded). The client list is long but not exhaustive, updates are infrequent, and some of the reports are several years old. Moreover, the information provided is unverified.

Still, Who Pays Photographers? can be a useful starting point. Photographer Anastasia Pottinger says she came across it when she was trying to figure out what to charge photo blogs to publish her portraits of centenarians, after the project went viral.

“[The site] gave me a better idea of what to expect.  I had read a few blog posts out there where people were getting $150 per image and maybe that’s true when it’s just one image, but I was not sure what to charge for a whole set of images,” she says. For online publication rights to ten of her images, she says she negotiated a $375 fee from Huffington Post, after Huffington Post asked (as it usually does) to publish the images for free.

The anonymous owner of Who Pays Photographers? said in an email that he (or she?) is a working editorial photographer, with limited time to maintain, improve or promote the site. (The Who Pays Photographers? Twitter feed and archive were last updated in February.) “I welcome input and any help in running” the site, the owner says.  See our earlier Q&A with the owner for more information.