Photographer Alleges Copyright Infringement Over U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Use of Photographs

Plaintiff William Anthony Photography, Inc. (WAP) specializes in portrait and editorial photography.  WAP filed suit for copyright infringement against United States Fund for UNICEF (U.S. Fund for UNICEF) in the Western District of Washington.  The dispute centers on whether U.S. Fund for UNICEF exceeded the scope of its license from WAP in its use of WAP’s copyrighted photographs.

WAP’s complaint (pdf) alleges the following:  U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s nationwide BELIEVE IN ZERO campaign began in approximately 2008 and features numerous celebrities.  UNICEF enlisted The Matale Line LLC (Matale Line), a Seattle-based advertising agency, to assist with the campaign.  Matale Line then enlisted WAP to take photographs for the BELIEVE IN ZERO campaign.  WAP was based in Seattle at the time.  “WAP licensed the images to UNICEF for the BELIEVE IN ZERO campaign at a grossly reduced rate because of the limited scope of the license and because of the philanthropic mission of the BELIEVE IN ZERO campaign.”  (Complaint pdf page 2).  The invoices to U.S. Fund for UNICEF for the images limited their use to the BELIEVE IN ZERO “print campaign.”  U.S. Fund for UNICEF paid the invoices without disputing them.  WAP took photos of Nicole Ritchie, Joel Madden, Amare Stoudemire, Lucy Liu, Laurence Fishburne and Alyssa Milano for the campaign.  WAP registered the images with the Copyright Office

After paying the invoices, U.S. Fund for UNICEF unilaterally expanded its scope of use of WAP’s copyrighted images beyond use in the print campaign.  WAP alleges that U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s nationwide use of the images for billboards, bus and train displays and airport video displays (pdf) was unauthorized and exceeded the parties’ agreement for use of the photos only in the print campaign.  WAP further alleges that U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s use of the images for illuminated displays (pdf) in train stations and on the Internet (pdf) was unauthorized and exceeded the parties’ agreement for use of the photos only in the print campaign.  

WAP alleges that U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s acts infringe its copyrights, in violation of 17 U.S.C. §106(a).  U.S. Fund for UNICEF allegedly failed to contact WAP to use the images outside of the print campaign.  WAP alleges willful infringement and requests statutory damages (17 U.S.C. §504(c)), injunctive relief (17 U.S.C. §502), impounding and destruction of the infringing articles (17 U.S.C. §503) and attorney’s fees and costs (17 U.S.C. §505).

This case is William Anthony Photography, Inc. v. United States Fund for UNICEF, Case No. C11-1121 MJP, Western District of Washington at Seattle.

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