American Society of Media Photographers
Thomas Maddrey, General Counsel
National Press Photographers Association
Mickey Osterricher, General Counsel
Alicia Calzada, Deputy General Counsel
Reversal of “Fair Use” Ruling in Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Commended by the American Society of Media Photographers and the National Press Photographers Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Richmond, VA – Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a lower court’s ruling that the infringement of photographer Russell Brammer’s work by Violent Hues Productions was “fair use.” As the court held: “All contemporary photographs are presumptively under copyright.”
The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) jointly authored an amicus brief in this case to ensure the court understood how a misapplication of the fair use factors negatively impacted visual artists in general, and photographers like Brammer in particular.
“This is a wonderful way to celebrate World IP Day, and we are very pleased to see this decision overturning one of the most egregious fair use rulings that many of us who defend copyright can remember,” said Osterreicher. “We hope that this will be seen as a clear message that it is much better and far cheaper to seek permission and license images than it is to steal them.”
Added Maddrey, “the ruling today makes clear that all photographs are entitled to copyright protection, and this right cannot be simply cast aside for the convenience of the infringer. There is no ‘good faith’ exception for infringement, and we are heartened by the reaffirmation of copyright protections help by the Fourth Circuit today.
Thomas Kennedy, Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers noted, “when the rights of photographers and artists are upheld by the judicial system, it is a win not only for our members, but for the public in general, and this ruling helps to cement the idea that photographs are worthy of protection, no matter where the infringement takes place.”
“It’s incredibly rewarding to see such a resounding rejection of anti-copyright ideas.” Calzada added, “It’s a tough decision for a photographer to pursue an appeal in a copyright case because of the financial risks, and we are grateful that Russell Brammer and his attorneys saw the long-term benefits of doing so—their commitment benefits all photographers.”
The amicus brief, authored by ASMP General Counsel Thomas Maddrey and General and Deputy Counsel for NPPA Mickey Osterricher and Alicia Calzada, and joined by the American Photographic Artists and the Graphic Artists Guild, was one of many supportive briefs brought by those who fight for the visual arts including the Copyright Alliance, the Digital Media Licensing Association, and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, among others. These visual rights groups help support the protections of all photographers and artists to continue to contribute to society through their creations and creativity.