Decisions in Brief

Recent Developments in IP Law

John C. Gatz

©2013. Published in Landslide, Vol. 5, No. 5, May/June 2013, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

COPYRIGHTS

Twitter Terms Did Not Convey License

Agence France Presse v. Morel, 2013 WL 146035 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). Declaratory judgment plaintiff Agence France Presse (AFP) sought a declaration that it had not infringed photographer Morel’s copyrights in several photographs. Morel had posted his photographs to Twitter through a TwitPic account, where they were reposted to the Twitter account of Lisandro Suero, who tweeted that he had exclusive photographs of the earthquakes. AFP found these photographs of the earthquake and loaded them into their system with attribution to Suero. The images were then transmitted from AFP to Getty Images, who maintains an online database of images for licensing to subscribers.

A day later, AFP learned of Morel’s TwitPic page, and issued a caption correction to credit Morel. AFP also transmitted re-credited copies of the photos to Getty, but the photos attributed to Suero on the Getty system were not removed. Morel’s agent Corbis contacted AFP and Getty to notify them that it had an exclusive arrangement with Morel, in which Getty removed the images attributed to Morel, but failed to remove the same images that had been incorrectly attributed to Suero. A few weeks later, Getty finally removed all of the images after getting notice from Corbis that the images attributed to Suero remained available. In the meantime, the Washington Post (among others) had obtained the photographs from Getty and used them, some incorrectly attributed to Suero and some correctly attributed to Morel. Despite also being notified, it took some time for the Post to remove the photographs from its website.

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