Photography / Arts / Design

Chambers USA 2018 Ranks Partners Lackman and Wolff as Top IP Attorneys; Recognizes Two Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP (CDAS) Practice Groups

Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP is delighted to announce that partners Eleanor M. Lackman and Nancy E. Wolff and both CDAS’s Entertainment and IP, Copyright and Litigation Practices have been recognized by Chambers and Partners in the Chambers USA 2018: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business guide.

Eleanor M. Lackman

Nancy E. Wolff

This is the fifth consecutive year Ms. Lackman and the second consecutive year Ms. Wolff have been ranked in the Chambers USA guide. They are both among just 41 New York lawyers ranked in the field of “Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets – New York.”

“Impressed sources” told Chambers that Ms. Lackman is “an absolutely incredible trademark litigator” and added: “She is very practical and always seems to make the right call.” She also has notable experience handling copyright matters, often advising clients across the media and entertainment industries.

Chambers describes Ms. Wolff as “very well-known and well-respected.” She receives plaudits for her expertise in a range of complex copyright matters and is highlighted for her particular skill across the photography and visual art industry.

CDAS’s Entertainment Practice was awarded a regional designation of “Noted Firm” in “Media & Entertainment: Film, Music, Television & Theater – New York” for the third consecutive year, while the Firm’s IP, Copyright and Litigation Practice received a  “Noted Firm” designation in “Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets – New York” for the second consecutive year.

The annual guide ranks law firms and lawyers based on in-depth interviews with clients and lawyers, technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other qualities most valued by the client.

A Coming Change: KodakOne Attempts to Prevent Unlicensed Use of Pictures

On January 9th, Kodak announced its intention to enter the cryptocurrency craze by developing a blockchain-based service that presumably allow participating photographers to get paid each time their licensed work is used on the Internet without their prior consent. As described on the company’s website, the digital platform, currently referred to as KODAKOne, will “provide continual web crawling to monitor and protect the [intellectual property] of images registered in the KODAKOne system.” Upon detection of an unlicensed use, Kodak will manage the post-licensing process and (i) have the picture removed, or (ii) compensate the participating photographer in the company’s own currency, referred to as KodakCoin. By December 11th, the company’s stock had more than tripled. Continue reading

Appellate Victory for “The Neighbors” Photographer against Right of Privacy Claim

Arne Svenson, a New York-based fine art photographer, prevailed on an appeal before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, filed by plaintiffs Martha and Matthew Foster, who had unsuccessfully sought to prevent the display, promotion, or sale of certain photographs from Svenson’s popular series “The Neighbors” by invoking New York’s right of privacy statute.  A unanimous panel of the court held that Svenson’s photographs – taken with a telephoto camera lens without his subjects’ knowledge – “is not actionable as a statutory tort of invasion of privacy” because “the images in question constituted art work and, thus [are] not deemed ‘use for advertising or trade purposes,’ within the meaning of the [privacy] statute.”  The court noted that the plaintiffs’ complaints were “best addressed to the Legislature” given the narrow scope of New York’s privacy law. Continue reading

Copyright Trumps Right of Publicity – Permitting Display and Download of Basketball Photographs (Maloney v. T3Media, Inc.)

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Maloney v. T3Media, Inc. recently held that state right-of-publicity claims brought by former college basketball players complaining of photographs licensed of their likenesses without consent warranted dismissal with prejudice pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which prohibits suits aimed at inhibiting free expression.  Members of the 2001 NCAA Division III champion Catholic University basketball team sued T3Media, a cloud storage, hosting, and digital licensing service, alleging violations of their rights of publicity when photographs of the players from the NCAA championship were displayed and made available for licensing on T3Media’s website.

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CDAS Partner Nancy Wolff’s Webinar Available Online

Recently, CDAS Partner Nancy Wolff hosted a webinar for the Digital Media Licensing Association which answered common questions about when you need releases when using visual images. The webinar is now available online for free, and is a useful resource for anyone publishing or displaying still or motion images and wondering whether permissions are needed from the subjects or property owners depicted in the content. The webinar footage can be found here.

Seventh Circuit Affirms Fair Use of Mayor’s Photograph, and Criticizes Second Circuit’s Approach in Cariou v. Prince

Note: This blog is cross-posted with permission from CopyrightAlliance.org.

Photographer Michael Kienitz (“Kienitz”) appealed the Western District Court of Wisconsin’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Sconnie Nation LLC and its vendor, Underground Printing-Wisconsin LLC (collectively, “defendants” or “Sconnie Nation”), contending defendants were liable for copyright infringement in connection with their unauthorized use of plaintiff’s photograph. Michael Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation LLC and Underground Printing-Wisconsin LLC, No. 13-3004 (7th Cir. Sept. 15, 2014). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, agreeing that defendants’ use of the photograph constituted a fair use. The central issue in this appeal was whether the Sconnie Nation had a valid fair use defense for its modified version of Kienitz’s copyrighted photograph. Continue reading

Copyright on the Wild Side

With a Push of a Button, Monkey Raises New Question About Copyright Authorship and Ownership of Photographs

It’s been theorized that if you give a million monkeys a million typewriters, they will eventually produce the entire collected works of William Shakespeare. It’s been proven, however, that if a troupe of monkeys steals a camera, one will eventually take a really good selfie. By now you’ve probably heard this story, but just in case, the facts are as follows.

In 2011, British wildlife photographer David Slater traveled to the forests of Indonesia, equipment in tow, to follow and photograph the endangered crested black macaque species of monkey. According to news reports, during his trip, Slater set up his camera and tripod and briefly stepped away, and when he came back, a group of macaques had, in the words of The Telegraph, “hijacked” his camera, ultimately taking hundreds of shots. Many of the shots were, as expected, blurry or otherwise unusable, but several actually came out quite well, including a crystal-clear selfie of a female macaque showing off her large amber eyes and huge toothy grin. Slater sold the image to several publications, and soon the story – and the selfie – caught fire in the media, filling inches in the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Washington Post, among other media outlets. The selfie soon ended up on Wikimedia Commons (owned by the parent company of Wikipedia), which is advertised as a repository of over 22.3 million free public domain images. Continue reading

Registration of Collective Work Registers Component Works, Says Ninth Circuit

Appellate Court Finds that Stock Agency Can Proceed with Lawsuit Involving Registered Works

On March 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Alaska Stock, LLC v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub. Co., 110 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1062 (9th Cir. 2014), determined that registration of a database of stock photographs as a collective work registered the component photographs within. Continue reading

Photo of Glass Sculpture Integrated in Ceiling a Fair Use

In Neri v. Monroe, 11-CV-429-SLC, 2014 WL 793336 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 26, 2014), the Western District of Washington smashed the hopes of a glass artist by sharply dismissing a pro se copyright action she brought against a design firm, among others, who displayed photos of an entrance hall of a private residence which incorporated her artwork.  The court found the photo display to be fair use.  The judge made his low opinion of the case abundantly clear, saying, “The bottom line is that, after the court has culled out plaintiff’s unfounded legal conclusions, rank speculation and unsupported assertions, the few material facts that remain fall far short of establishing their claim of copyright infringement.” Continue reading

Marshall Thompson v. Getty Images: Determining a “Commercial Purpose”

Decision Examines Illinois Right of Publicity Act

Getty Images successfully defeated a claim by Marshall Thompson, singer and sole living member of the “Chi-Lite”, alleging that the online posting of his photo for possible licensing, was a violation of his right of publicity under Illinois Right of Publicity Act (IRPA), despite a contrary ruling (in a factually similar case) in Illinois in 2007. Continue reading

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