New Hampshire photographer sues church over unauthorized image use
New Hampshire photographer Erin Paul Donovan is suing Wightman United Methodist Church in Prosperity, South Carolina, for using his copyrighted photo without permission. Donovan alleges the church used the image, depicting New Hampshire’s White Mountains, as a thumbnail for a sermon video on its website in June 2021.
The lawsuit claims the church not only used the image without permission. They also removed Donovan’s copyright notice, name, and watermark while using the photo for promotional purposes. The photographer reportedly contacted the church twice, in June and July 2023, to address the issue. However, he claims that he never received a satisfactory response.
Donovan is seeking damages for the alleged infringement and requesting the court to ban the church from using any of his photographs in the future. The church still hasn’t responded to the lawsuit, and they have until February 20, 2024, to file a response with the court.
This case highlights the importance of copyright protection for photographers. Your work is your intellectual property, and you have the right to seek damages no matter who uses it without permission or compensation. Also, your image is automatically protected as soon as you take it (unless it’s AI). However, registering your work with the US Copyright Office adds some layers to protecting your rights. Here are some tips on how to register your copyright, and you can read more interesting copyright cases and news.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.