In photography, like any creative field for that matter, we get ideas from viewing the work of others. We all pull from each other to learn and grow as artists. That is what makes this latest lawsuit so interesting – it’s not regarding someone using a photo without permission, but rather after failing to get a license on a photo, the defendant recreated the photo.
At least, that is what is alleged in this new lawsuit between celebrity photographer Bonnie Schiffman and musician Rod Stewart. According to Schiffman, after failing to come to an agreement on a license for her photo on a billboard advertisement, Stewart had her photo recreated.
The photo at the center of this whole ordeal was originally licensed by Warner Bros for Stewart’s 1989 anthology “Storyteller.” In 2010, Schiffman was approached by Stewart’s agent wanting to license the photo on a billboard ad, and offered to pay $1500, which Schiffman turned down.
She was surprised to see, later on, that Stewart (or his team) had the photo recreated and used in the advertisement. So, Schiffman is suing sued Stewart, calling the recreation a “replicate image, an unmistakable copy.”
Schiffman is looking for injunctive relief, and at least $2.5 million in damages. There is precedent for this: back in 1992, in the case of Rogers vs. Koons, it was found that the image had “substantial similarity” to the original. So, Schiffman may have a case here.
Personally, I can see both sides to the argument here. In most cases, simply copying another photographer’s photo/concept (while adding your own twist or flair) is just a way of life. Where this gets murky for me, is the fact that they came to Schiffman, asked for a license, and when she wanted more than they wanted to pay, they just paid some other photographer to recreate her image. That may not be where this legal fight happens, but to me, that is reason enough for Schiffman to be compensated here.
What are your thoughts on this lawsuit? Do you side with the photographer or musician in this case? Leave a comment below!
[via Peta Pixel]