by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, louis psihoyos, photographs

bbc, cbs, intel

Oscar Winner Sues BBC & CBS For Copyright Infringement Of His Photo

from the something's-missing dept

THREsq has an interesting story about how the guy, Louie Psihoyos, who won an Oscar for best documentary this year for The Cove, apparently has a pretty quick legal trigger finger against anyone using a photograph he took 15 years ago. He's sued a bunch of companies over the years, and the latest is the BBC and CBS. He claims that it cost him $100,000 to create the photograph, which can be seen here:
Psihoyos Image
And, yes, THREsq is showing the photo as well. In these two cases, it seems like clear fair use, since we're both reporting on the photo itself. However, where the BBC potentially got into trouble is in using the same photo to illustrate an article about Intel betting on TV and video content. What's odd, however, is that the reason CBS is being sued is "that CBS Marketing appropriated it for commercial display at the 2009 Intel Developers Forum." This makes me wonder if CBS Marketing used the image at the event that the BBC was reporting on, leading the BBC to believe it had the ability to use that image. That could make the legal fight a bit more interesting.

However, the article also notes that Psihoyos has sued a bunch of times in the past over this photo as well. For example, a year ago, he sued Apple for the second time over this photo. While that lawsuit was eventually settled, the details suggest that Psihoyos was barking up the wrong tree on that lawsuit. It wasn't a case of Apple using the image, but a random iPhone app developer. You would think that Apple would have a clear DMCA safe harbor response, which would protect it from such a lawsuit, so I'm a bit surprised they ended up settling.

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  1. icon
    Cyberpoint (profile), 7 Aug 2010 @ 4:52am

    His artwork

    I'm with this guy, actually, which surprises me.

    Go to any stock image site and you'll find hundreds of vaguely similar photoshopped or rendered images for sale. You'll find plenty for free as well.

    But the point is this guy created it; he owns it. It doesn't matter whether anyone else thinks it has any artistic merit, or whether they believe his claim for how much it cost him to create, or whether they think he was a dumbass for not doing it with 3d animation; it's his.

    So I think he's entitled to try and stop people like the BBC and CBS using it as a free stock image to illustrate unrelated stories.

    For what it's worth, it looks to me like he really did hire a studio, set up 500 TVs, tune them in and probably take scores of photos to get the perfect one. Nice job.

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