Court Definitively Rejects AFP’s Argument That Posting a Photo to Twitter Grants AFP a License to Freely Use It — AFP v. Morel

21 01 2013

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

AFP v. Morel, 10 Civ. 02730 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2013)

The court *finally* issued its ruling on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment in AFP v. Morel, the Haiti photo case. Previous posts here and here.

The facts are interesting and highly relevant to the fast-paced world we operate in. I recommend reading them, if for no other reason than as a cautionary tale. In a nutshell, Morel took photos of the Haiti earthquake, uploaded them to Twitpic and posted to Twitter. Someone else took Morel’s photos and uploaded the same photos to their own account. An AFP staffer found the photos on the second individual’s Twitter account, communicated with him, and thought AFP obtained a license. AFP then distributed the photos to Getty and other downstream third parties. Morel was understandably unhappy and started firing off takedown letters and requests. This prompted a preemptive lawsuit by AFP. (Joe Mullin has an excellent recap at Ars and he delves into the messy factual backdrop: “News flash for the media: you can’t sell photos grabbed from Twitter.”)


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