July 2, 2007
Court Finds Single Act of Copyright Infringement Where Infringing Photo Was Distributed Numerous Times
On September 11, 2001, Valencia McClatchey took a photograph of the mushroom cloud caused by the crash of United Fight 93. Although she obtained copyright of the image, the Associated Press allegedly distributed the image though its PhotoStream service to various AP members.
When McClatchey learned her photo was being used without permission, she sued AP for copyright infringement, alleging that each distribution to various Associated Press customers constituted an infringement. However, the court held that AP was only liable for the single act of releasing the photo to subscribers, even though the photo was re-distributed by AP to numerous parties.
TIP: In the event that you are accused of copyright infringement, and you are attempting to negotiate a settlement, this case may be helpful in attempting to limit the calculation of damages.