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News & Insight

Photographer Sues Apple for Using her Image to Promote MacBook Pro

By fotosiamo on October 14th 2012

Wow, this is going to be a big one. Swiss photographer Sabine Liewald is suing Apple for misusing her “Eye Close-up” image to help promote the Retina Display Macbook Pro.

Sabine Liewald Retina Display Apple

According to the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Apple acquired the rights for the image for “comping or layout purposes only,” and not for commercial usage. Apple ended using the image to promote that Retina Display MacBook Pro without renegotiating for the commercial rights.

In the suit, Sabine states that the photograph is still protected under Switzerland’s own copyright laws, as well as under “the Berne Convention as a non-United States work.” She further states that “by commercially exploiting [her] copyrighted image without her consent or permission, Apple damaged [her] while obtaining significant economic gains.”

According to FStoppers, Sabine is not looking for just a specific amount in damages, but to get a percentage of every Retina Display MacBook Pro ever sold since her photograph helped to promote and sell that laptop.

In my opinion, this is why knowing your copyright laws and registering your images are important components of your business as a photographer. This suit may be a very important one for us photographers. What do you think?

Eye Closeup Suit

Thanks to C-Net, Apple Insider, and FStoppers for the news

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for posting

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  2. Ed Rhodes

    man, i hope apple steals one of my images someday $$$

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  3. Instagram Backpedals New Terms of Service after Backlash

    […] After Facebook purchased Instagram earlier this year, it has been looking for ways to increase its revenue capabilities. Some are concerned that this “fielding for income” has broken the trust many users have with the platform. It is also disconcerting that the protection against class action lawsuits still remain within the text. Furthermore, measures to protect the rights of the user are usurped by the organization. Systrom’s statement also refers to Instagram’s design to become “a self-sustaining business” almost as if it is an excuse for, what some may feel, amounts intellectual theft. The uproar today over the Terms of Service change for Instagram follows on the heels of a photographer suing Apple for misuse of her photographs for marketing purposes. […]

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  4. Anonymous

    can someone tell me what “comping or layout purposes only,” actually is? and what that actually allows?

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    • Eliam

      “Comping” in design is kind of like “sketching” in drawing; it’s when designers put together designs that hasn’t been approved or finalized yet. If one has only bought/received rights to an image for comping or layout purposes only, it can only be used as a placeholder (usually for internal or client presentation purposes) and not be used in the final product or be made public, until proper usage rights have been obtained.

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  5. Yeelen

    Hopefully she’ll win it, but it’s likely Apple will end up suing her for using one of their patents to edit the image..

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