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Associated Press Settles Copyright Lawsuit Against Obama Hope Artist

January 13th, 2011

Associated Press Settles Copyright Lawsuit Against Obama Hope Artist

Street artist Shepard Fairey and The Associated Press are settling a copyright dispute over who owned the rights to the iconic Obama “Hope” poster, the two said in a joint statement Wednesday.

The out-of-court settlement ends the closely watched, 2-year-old lawsuit without resolving the underlying legal issue: whether Fairey had a fair use right under copyright law to produce the graphic based on an AP photo snapped of then Sen. Barack Obama at the National Press Club in 2006.

The wire service did not surrender its position that Fairey infringed the AP’s works with a “form of computerized paint by the numbers.” And Fairey maintained he transformed the AP’s image enough to constitute a fair use of the work under copyright law.

Fairey had long claimed he based his abstract graphic rendition on a photo of Obama seated next to actor George Clooney. But he later admitted he actually used a solo shot of Obama from the same event, and had destroyed and fabricated evidence to support his story.

Though both photos at issue were shot by the same AP photographer, the fact that the solo shot of Obama was the source was important because the more one transforms a photograph, the higher the chances that the resulting art constitutes a fair use of the original work.

The AP claimed Fairey generated $400,000 in sales of the image, which had adorned websites, posters, stickers, shirts and buttons at the time of Obama’s presidential election.

According to the settlement’s terms, the two sides agreed “to work together going forward with the Hope image and share the rights to make the posters and merchandise bearing the Hope image and to collaborate on a series of images that Fairey will create based on AP photographs.”

Financial terms remained confidential.

The entire article can be found at Wired.com

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One Is A Million Dollar Photograph

January 11th, 2011

One Is A Million Dollar Photograph

Just received information from a Beverley Hills, Calif., public relations agency about the sale of a photo by photographer Peter Lik to an anonymous buyer for the magnificent price of a million bucks.

The photo, labeled “One” by the Australian photographer, who says it’s “the best shot I have taken in my lifetime,” is a nature shot captured on the banks of the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire.

Taken just after dawn, amid breathtaking New England fall foliage, the photograph resembles an Impressionist painting more than any nature photograph. Says Lik, “I will never forget this morning for the rest of my life. It was calm, and the scent of the fall forest filled my lungs. The mist cleared, and a magical reflection in the river briefly appeared. White birch trees, black trunks, a kaleidoscope of foliage combining to reveal an illusion of three dimensions. I pressed the shutter – once – and then the scene vanished with the morning breeze, never to be seen again.”

Lik is no newcomer. He currently is represented in 14 galleries worldwide and in April will have his work displayed in a collection of nature photography at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Lik has been admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal Geographic Society, and has been named a Master of Photography by both the Professional Photographers of America and the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. You can check him out at www.peterlik.com.

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Kingston announces 600X CompactFlash cards

January 6th, 2011

Kingston announces 600X CompactFlash cards

Kingston Digital Inc., Fountain Valley, Calif., announced the release of its CF Ultimate 600x memory card. The Ultimate 600x supports UDMA mode 6 and offers read and write speeds of up to 90MB/sec. making it Kingston’s fastest card to support high-end digital cameras and other devices.

The CF Ultimate 600x is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities to support the large file sizes created when shooting in RAW mode or HD video. If paired with UDMA mode 6 enabled cameras and readers, the 600x speed allows for data to write to and read from the card at a faster rate than previous generations of cards. The CF Ultimate 600x includes free downloadable data recovery software from MediaRECOVER.

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Morel Clears First Hurdle in Infringement Lawsuit for Tweeted Photos

January 5th, 2011

Morel Clears First Hurdle in Infringement Lawsuit for Tweeted Photos

Daniel Morel, a professional photographer, captured some of the first shots of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Morel uploaded his earthquake photos on Twitpic and posted a link to them on his Twitter account. Lisandro Suero then copied Morel’s photos (without Morel’s knowledge or permission) and posted them on his Twitpic page and tweeted that he had “exclusive photographs of the catastrophe for credit and copyright.” An editor of AFP (Agence France Presse, a French news agency), Vincent Amalvy, attempted to contact both Morel and Suero. Before Morel could respond, AFP copied thirteen (13) of Morel’s photos onto its Image Forum and transmitted them to Getty for licensing and marketing in North America and the U.K. To make matters worse, the photos were attributed to Suero in the photo credit (“AFP/Getty/Lisandro Suero”).

In response to Morel’s attorney’s cease and desist letter, AFP filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit against Morel for non-infringement and license (AFP also included a claim for commercial defamation). A photographer risks being brought into a lawsuit after sending a C&D, because the alleged infringer can ask the court to determine whether a violation has occurred. The plaintiff (AFP here) thus asks the court to “declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought. 28 USC 2201. [Shepard Fairey also filed a "dec" action and Lloyd Shugard was on the receiving end of a declaratory judgment action but won $1.3 million for his counterclaim for copyright infringement in that case.] The pros to a declaratory judgment action is that AFP pays the filing fee ($350) and has the burden of going forward in the lawsuit. The potential cons are that AFP choses the forum (in which court to file the suit) that might be inconvenient and not the most favorable to the photographer (but the court must have jurisdiction over the photographer) and the photographer then has to defend his claim in court. While the photographer (if a sole proprietor) can represent himself, it’s usually not wise. Therefore, the photographer has to pay the attorneys’ fees and expenses.

The entire article by Carolyn E. Wright can be found here.

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Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online

December 30th, 2010

Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online

Even the most ardent Internet supporters will acknowledge that most Web sites are a hodgepodge of poor design and cluttered content.

And so Jakob Nielsen, a Web site consultant and author of a number of books about design and user interface, has made it his personal mission to try to bring order to the tangled design of most sites. Mr. Nielsen’s weapons in the fight to clean up this mess include some eye-tracking software and research he chronicles on his blog.

For his latest cleaning project, Mr. Nielsen is going after images online.

In the past he has argued that large images annoy users because of the long load times, even with a high-speed Internet connection. Now, in a new study, he points out that the random or stock images on Web sites are completely ignored by users, add more clutter to the page and don’t necessarily help from a business standpoint.

His latest eye-tracking survey found that “big feel-good images that are purely decorative” are mostly ignored online, while stock photos or generic people are also intentionally disregarded. In contrast, when users know that a picture of a person is real they will engage with the image for extended periods of time.

The study becomes extremely interesting when its findings are applied to products sold online.

The entire article can be found at the NY Times.

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Rollei rolls out 3D camera and frame

December 27th, 2010

Rollei rolls out 3D camera and frame

Rollei, Hamburg, Germany, has introduced a 3D camera and 3D frame. The Powerflex 3D is a dual-lens, 5-megapixel Rollei Powerflex 3D model, featuring an 8x digital zoom. The camera has a 2D mode as well, and can take 3D video. HD-quality videos can be shot at 30 images per second. The pictures appear on the 2.8 inch LCD display with a resolution of 640-by-480 pixels in such a way that each one of the observer’s eyes sees a slightly displaced image, which is then automatically merged into a three-dimensional image, so images can be reviewed without glasses.

The Rollei Designline 3D is a 7i-nch digital frame that can display 3D photos. Shipping in a bundle with the “Blaze Video Magic 3.0” software that helps to convert 2D images into 3D pictures, the Rollei Desingline 3D is otherwise a standard 800-by-480-pixel digital photo frame with integrated stereo speakers, and doubles as an e-book reader.

Rollei’s Designline 3D and Powerflex 3D will be available in retail channels at the end of January 2011 for a suggested retail price of 299.95 euros each.

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LEICA S2 firmware update FW 1.0.0.24 is now available

December 22nd, 2010

LEICA S2 firmware update FW 1.0.0.24 is now available

Leica Camera AG, Solms, Germany, released a new firmware update for the Leica S-System. All LEICA S2 and S2-P cameras will now be supplied with the latest firmware version. Users wishing to bring their camera up-to-date can now download the firmware update from the “Owners Area” on the Leica website and take advantage of the latest improvements.

The FW 1.0.0.24 firmware updates include lossless DNG compression. This offers particular benefits by reducing file sizes from around 75MB to around 40MB and increasing the burst-rate capability to 14 consecutive exposures (at 1.5 frames per second). Both of these factors depend on the image content. At the same time, DNG compression leads to faster file-saving and transfer times when shooting tethered. Further new features of the firmware update are a new maximum exposure time of 125 seconds, shutter speed section in bulb mode (with the new firmware, the setting wheel can now be used to select the shutter speeds directly) and a setting option for highlight and shadow level warnings.

Existing camera functions have also been improved in the firmware update FW 1.0.0.24. This applies, for instance, to the histogram display in automatic review mode. This display option has now been enlarged for improved legibility. Furthermore, the update also allows the expansion of memory card compatibility to include 64GB UDMA6 cards and offers additional setting options for the AF/AE memory button. Autofocus precision has increased even more and focusing on very small subject details is, above all, greatly improved now.

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Court decisions create copyright confusion

December 21st, 2010

Court decisions create copyright confusion

A recent LA Times article reports a copyright suit pitting Omega against Costco has resulted in an unsatisfactory ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit regarding resale rights.

According to the article, copyright law gives publishers, record labels and other creators unusual control over the works they produce, but much of that control evaporates once a work has been sold, leaving buyers free to resell, rent, lend or give away their purchases. This “first sale” doctrine provides a crucial legal umbrella for libraries and secondhand stores, among others.

The doctrine has been undermined, however, by new technology and court rulings. For example, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that the first-sale rule doesn’t apply to items purchased outside the United States An appeal to the Supreme Court foundered this week, when the eight justices who heard the case announced that they were irrevocably split.

The issue was whether Costco could sell discounted Swiss Omega watches obtained from companies that had purchased them outside the United States. The watches had a copyrighted logo engraved on the back, giving Omega the legal basis to sue Costco for infringement. Specifically, Omega accused Costco of violating a provision in the 1976 Copyright Act that bars the unauthorized importation copyrighted works in quantity.

The 9th Circuit agreed with Omega that this provision trumped the first-sale doctrine. With limited exceptions for personal, nonprofit or governmental use, it ruled, no copyrighted product manufactured outside the U.S. can be imported without the copyright owner’s permission.

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Update on Lawsuit Against Photographer for Photo of Sculpture

December 20th, 2010

Update on Lawsuit Against Photographer for Photo of Sculpture

This is an interesting article from PhotoAttorney.com

Mike Hipple continues his attempts to defend the claim by Jack Mackie for taking and licensing a photo of Mackie’s sculpture. The background of the case is reported in my February 3, 2010 blog entry.

As part of litigation, many courts require or at least allow the parties to mediate the case in an effort to resolve it without a trial. Mediation involves an unbiased court-appointed or privately-hired mediator who attempts to get the parties to resolve their differences by coming to a mutual agreement. Since mediation is not binding, you commit only your time and usually the shared cost of the mediator. If the mediation is unsuccessful, you retain your ability to go to trial.

The parties in the Mackie v. Hipple case recently mediated their dispute, and the mediator reported that “although the case was not resolved, [the mediation] was a partial success. The mediation is ongoing . . . [and] the case might be resolved in the near future . . . .”

Recently, a Photo Attorney blog reader who also is a Canadian lawyer shared with me an interesting comparison of the United States copyright law and the Copyright Act in Canada with respect to photographing sculptures.

Click here for the entire article.

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Captain Beefheart dies at 69

December 18th, 2010

Captain Beefheart dies at 69

Avant-garde rock legend and visual artist Don Van Vliet, who performed under the name Captain Beefheart, passed away today at age 69. A representative of New York City’s Michael Werner Gallery, which showed his paintings, confirms the sad news to EW. Van Vliet died of complications from multiple sclerosis at a hospital in Northern California this morning.

Born in California in 1941, Van Vliet dubbed himself Captain Beefheart and began experimenting with eccentric rock’n'roll sounds in the mid-1960s. His first two releases with the Magic Band drew positive notice from some connoisseurs but failed to connect with the wider public. Van Vliet next forged a close creative partnership with Frank Zappa, a former high school classmate, who signed Beefheart to his Straight Records and produced 1969′s Trout Mask Replica. While the bizarre double album was not a major commercial success, it quickly became a cultural landmark. Van Vliet effectively redefined the frontiers of popular music, singing snatches of surreal imagery in disturbing tones over music that drew on blues, jazz, psychedelia, and a thousand other subgenres. Trout Mask Replica is still cited today as an essential art-rock document.

Click here for the entire article

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