Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that found it was acceptable to take another’s photograph to use on a website, upholding the rights of all photographers not to have their work stolen under the guise of “fair use.” This ruling by the Fourth Circuit helps to add to the growing body of case law in infringement and fair use, and is a strong message that photographers’ rights are vital to the expression of creative ideas in the United States.
In an amicus brief jointly authored by Thomas Maddrey from ASMP and Mickey Osterricher and Alicia Calzada from the National Press Photographers Association, our organizations fought for the rights of the photographer, Russell Brammer, in his lawsuit against Violent Hues Productions by showing how the lower court misapplied the factors for a finding of fair use. These factors, and this analysis, are vitally important because an expansion of these factors negatively impact commercial and professional photographers across the country. The brief authored by Maddrey, Osterricher, and Calzada was also joined by the American Photographic Artists and the Graphic Artists Guild.
ASMP is on the forefront of matters like this because in the judicial system, the rulings that have come before set the course for future courts to analyze similar situations. That is why it is so necessary for photographers like Brammer and organizations like ASMP and others to stand up for these rights when they are in peril.
The appeals court’s opinion set out favorable language for the future of these type of analysis. The court held that by allowing the arguments of Violent Hues’ it would “frustrate copyright’s central goal.” The court went on to conclude, “[s]uch a use would not constitute fair use when done in print, and it does not constitute fair use on the internet.”
The decision of the lower court was roundly decried by many leading visual rights organizations as well, including the Copyright Alliance, the Digital Media Licensing Association, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and others.
ASMP is proud to stand behind Russell Brammer and joins NPPA and other visual rights organizations in celebrating the ruling handed down today by the Fourth Circuit.