Perhaps you remember the case from earlier this year, when Netflix was accused of using a storm image without permission for its hit show Stranger Things. Photographer Sean R. Heavey took the photo, and he is now filing a lawsuit against Netflix for copyright infringement.
Heavey captured the photo of the supercell on 10 July 2010 near Hinsdale, Valley County, Montana and titled it The Mothership. The lawsuit states that a great effort was involved in taking this photo, including “careful timing, as well as significant time and energy.”
“Sean tracked and followed the storm depicted in ‘The Mothership’ for many hours, beginning as it crossed the Montana/Canada border heading South. Sean used his technical expertise to digitally combine four independent, vertically-framed panoramic photographs to create ‘The Mothership.’ The four photographs combined to create ‘The Mothership’ were the result of numerous sequences of experimentation by Sean with various framing, exposure, shutter speed, and movement options.”
The Mothership was featured in several publications and featured on different websites. On 26 November 2010, Heavey registered the image with the United States Copyright Office.
As the photographer previously explained, his work was noticed in Beyond Stranger Things behind-the-scenes special, being used in concept art for the show. Heavey claimed that Netflix had never asked them for the permission. And considering that the photo isn’t licensed with any stock agency, they couldn’t have bought it either.
Back in May when this happened, Heavey contacted Netflix regarding the issue. However, the reply he reportedly got was that “they used a similar cloud formation” and that “he can’t copyright storm clouds in general.” According to the photographer, this is the reply he keeps getting even now. Great Falls Tribune writes that this is the answer Heavey got from Netflix attorney Jarin Jackson, too.
Sean Heavey filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Great Falls. He claims that he contacted Netflix several times regarding the issue, but that they refused to remove the infringing photo. In the lawsuit, Heavy seeks to prevent Netflix from further using the photo without permission. Also, he seeks damages and legal fees, although the amount hasn’t been specified in the lawsuit.
As I’ve said before, this looks like the same photo to me. There are just too many similarities, regardless of the fact that the photo was edited to fit the Stranger Things mood. I believe that filing a lawsuit is a good call, and in my opinion, Heavey has a good chance of winning it. What do you think?
[via Great Falls Tribune]