Copyright Watch: In Apparent Retaliation, CBS Sues Photographer Who Sued Them for Copyright Violation

Posted by on Thursday November 2, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

A screen grab submitted with Jon Tannen's lawsuit shows the photographer's image on with the sports website's watermark and incorrect credit information.


CBS Broadcasting Inc. has filed a lawsuit against photographer Jon Tannen for allegedly posting images from a television show on social media. The complaint appears to be an attempt to retaliate against Tannen for trying to protect his copyright. In February, Tannen, a New York City-based photojournalist, sued CBS Interactive Inc. for willful copyright infringement after a sports website owned by the corporation allegedly published two of Tannen’s images without permission.

Tannen’s suit, filed in in U.S. district court in New York City, claims that, published two of his images without permission. The suit alleges that, a sports news website owned by CBS Interactive, willfully violated Tannen’s copyright when it took two images of a standout high school football player off of Tannen’s Facebook page and ran them in a story about the player. The suit also claims that falsified and/or altered Tannen’s copyright by adding their own watermark and credit to the photographs.

Tannen is seeking either actual damages—including any profits CBS made from the violations—or statutory damages up to $150,000 per image for the copyright infringement. He is also seeking up to $25,000 for each instance of falsification/alteration of copyright management information, plus his expenses and attorney’s fees.

CBS’s suit against Tannen, which was first reported last week by Torrentfreak, alleges that Tannen posted images from a 1958 episode of Gunsmoke, a rerun of which recently aired on classic TV network MeTV. CBS owns the copyright to the Gunsmoke television series, which aired from 1955-1975. In their complaint, lawyers for CBS Broadcasting wrote that Tannen “hypocritically engaged in this act of infringement while simultaneously bringing suit against Plaintiff’s sister company, CBS Interactive Inc.”

Tannen hadn’t yet registered the copyright for his images at the time published them on January 23, 2017. Tannen applied to register his copyright for the images three days later.



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