Lawyers for big companies tend to be notoriously careful to make sure the companies license images they use for marketing purposes, for obvious reasons. And yet... Apple seems to keep using unlicensed images. It's really quite surprising. A couple of years ago, we wrote about how the default wallpaper for the iPad was used
without licensing it. In that case, the photographer, Richard Misrach, was thrilled, saying that he was sure that a contract was on the way, and whatever was in it would be fine: "I'm sure they'll send me [a contract] quickly now. But I'm very happy, I'm sure it's fine, and the terms are good." I don't know if that experience made Apple confident it could do the same sort of thing again, but Misrach's response is not quite the norm. And Apple is now discovering that as it will have to deal with a lawsuit from photographer Sabine Liewald
As detailed at the Patently Apple site
, Liewald has sued Apple, claiming that it used her photograph as part of the marketing around the MacBook Pro's promotion for its Retina Display.
The first link above, to the MacObserver story, notes that Apple is now using a different (though similar) image of an eye. However, Liewald claims that Apple had requested Liewald's image from her Factory Downtown page
, but for layout purposes only. It sounds like someone then got confused over whether or not they had actually licensed the image. Again, it's really surprising that Apple isn't a lot more careful about this kind of stuff. Liewald is apparently claiming that she's entitled to both "actual damages including defendant's profits" and
statutory damages. That sounds like a lawyer just trying to push the company to settle faster -- and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple cuts Liewald a decent check pretty quickly to make this go away. I can't imagine that it pays to fight this lawsuit.