The music producer says the photographer shot the disputed image on a work-for-hire basis, and therefore doesn’t own the copyright. Quincy Jones also says that even if Michael Jones does own the copyright, the photographer transferred rights to the image for use by Quincy Jones and other defendants.
The photograph, showing Quincy Jones at a recording session, appeared in ads for a line of audio headphones. Michael Jones says he provided an 8×10 print to Quincy Jones, who allegedly provided it to Harman International, the headphone manufacturer, without the photographer’s permission. The image also appeared in a music book.
Harman International, which is a co-defendant in the case, has also denied Michael Jones’s copyright infringement allegations on the grounds that the images were works for hire.
The defendants have yet to produce a work-for-hire agreement signed by the photographer. Without that, they may have to prove that the photographer’s working conditions amounted to a work-for-hire arrangement. Quincy Jones has hinted that he will try to do that by asserting that Michael Jones was “paid in full” for his services, and that he did the work with photographic equipment supplied by the Los Angeles recording studio that allegedly hired him.
The studio, Qwest Records, was a joint venture between Quincy Jones and Warner Brothers Records.
Michael Jones has alleged that he was not paid in full for the 1995 shoot because he refused at the time to sign away his rights to the images. He has also alleged that representatives for Qwest tried to “strong-arm” him in 2010 to accept $6,500 for all rights to the disputed image. The photographer says he refused, but Quincy Jones–and Harman–say that Michael Jones accepted the offer. Quincy Jones also denies that Qwest representatives “attempted to strongarm” the photographer.
A court date has not been set.