Daniel Morel vs. Agence France Presse and Getty Images
The jury has returned a verdict in the high-profile trial of photojournalist Daniel Morel against the two digital media giants, Agence France Presse (AFP) and Getty Images, which was heard before Judge Allison Nathan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Morel and his counsel are extremely grateful for the jury’s careful evaluation of the evidence and the damages awards that they have rendered against Agence France Presse and Getty Images for their conduct. Particularly satisfying to Mr. Morel are the jury’s findings that these major agencies violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and willfully violated the Copyright Act when they wrongfully downloaded, misidentified, and licensed his iconic images of the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The jury awarded the maximum statutory damages that the Court allowed for copyright infringement for 8 photographs — $1.2 million — and one thousand times what the defendants told the jury it should award as actual damages for their wrongful acts — $275,000 as opposed to $275. Mr. Morel will elect to receive the statutory damages amount plus the $20,000 award against the defendants for their 16 violations of the DMCA.
We believe that this is the first time these defendants or any other major digital licensors have been found liable for the willful violation of a photojournalist’s copyrights in his own works.
Mr. Morel hopes that no other photojournalist who puts himself or herself in harm’s way will have to suffer through the same three and a half year ordeal that he experienced at the hands of these defendants.
Mr. Morel was represented by Joseph T. Baio and Emma J. James of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.