AFP to Pay $1.22 Million to Haiti Photographer

Haitian photographer, Daniel Morel, was awarded $1.22 million in statutory damages in a copyright infringement case in late November. The lawsuit brought by Morel and Corbis Photo concerned eight photographs taken by Morel of the aftermath of Haiti's 2010 earthquake.

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The trouble began after Morel posted the photos on his TwitPic account. Another Twitter user re-posted the pictures on his own timeline, neglecting to either credit Morel, or layout the owner's restrictions for other conditions regarding their usage.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and its U.S. affiliate, Getty Images, published the photos without asking Morel permission. Although AFP tried to make reparations after discovering their error, he was unavailable. Prior to trying to reach him, AFP emailed their subscription base, correctly crediting Morel as the real photographer. Getty Images also issued a mandatory kill to tell their clients the photos were not to be used for any purpose.

A panel of seven jurors deliberated for only five hours to come to a unanimous decision AFP had breached the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For this violation, Morel was awarded $20,000. This amount was tacked onto $1.22 million in damages for willful copyright infringement the jury also awarded him.

Although AFP/Getty lawyers argued every step was taken to insure any further misuse of the photos did not occur, the die was cast. The fact AFP/Getty offered to buy the photos probably put the final nail in the coffin.

As part of due process, AFP/Getty can appeal the ruling.

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Read more: Media, photography, Copyright, AFP, Daniel Morel, Media

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