AFP v. Morel – Lawsuit Over Haiti Photos Taken From Twitter/Twitpic Goes to Trial

22 11 2013

We’ve previously covered AFP v. Morel, the case where photographer Daniel Morel is suing AFP, Getty and downstream licenses for allegedly infringing on his copyrighted material. In a nutshell, he took some iconic photos following the Haiti earthquake. AFP sourced these photos through a social media account they thought was Morel but that was actually someone else’s. Morel sent numerous takedowns and threats, and AFP preemptively filed a declaratory relief lawsuit.

Three years in, the case is set for trial today (November 13) and I thought it would be helpful to recap the developments in the case. Prior blog posts covered AFP’s unsuccessful attempt to get the case dismissed at the motion to dismiss (“Court Rejects Agence France-Presse’s Attempt to Claim License to Haiti Earthquake Photos Through Twitter/Twitpic Terms of Service — AFP v. Morel”) and then at the summary judgment stage (“Court Definitively Rejects AFP’s Argument That Posting a Photo to Twitter Grants AFP a License to Freely Use It — AFP v. Morel”). The court roundly rejected AFP’s argument that it could take the benefit of broad license terms contained in Twitter or Twitpic’s terms of service. Once this possible (and many observes thought, somewhat far-fetched defense) was taken away, it was clear that AFP would be on the hook for something.

Morel’s victory on summary judgment as to liability was key, but since then there have been a few developments that were less than favorable for him:


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