Photographer wins $6 million in copyright case
A Californian photographer has won a copyright lawsuit and was awarded $6.3 million in compensation. The jury ruled that a retirement home business breached copyright law after using the photographer’s images without permission.
Architecture photographer Scott Hargis was embroiled for years in the court battle with Pacifica Senior Living after they used his work without a licence.
According to Architecture Photography Almanac, it is the highest amount ever given in a photo copyright infringement lawsuit.
The situation apparently escalated when Pacifica Senior Living refused to offer a settlement. The jury found all 43 images used without a licence infringed on Hargis’ copyright. $150,000 was awarded per photograph, the highest amount allowed in the US legal system.
The Architecture Photography Almanac suggests that the jury was looking to send a very strong message. The offending party wilfully and knowingly used the images and breached copyright. Hargis had registered the images with the United States Copyright Office which only made the case even more cut and dried.
This does send a serious message to would-be copyright infringers. Photographers and artists everywhere should be happy about results such as these. However, it is likely that much of that money awarded will be spent on court fees and lawyers.
Photographer Lynn Goldsmith finally won her court case against the Andy Warhol Foundation. She is now resorting to a GoFundMe to raise money to pay the huge court bills. Her total costs amounted to $2.5 million, and she even had to sell her house to help cover the costs.
Of course, these things can go both ways, and some photographers have been caught out recently by unauthorised themed photoshoots which infringe copyright.
Hargis stated that he is “thrilled” with the result. That’s his retirement sorted then, although I doubt he is planning to spend it with Pacifica Senior Living!
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe