24 August 2017Copyright

Former NFL stars thrown into wrangle over image copyright

A photographer has sued sports news website  Bleacher Report for allegedly using a photograph of two former National Football League (NFL) players without his permission.

The complaint (pdf) was filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, August 23.

Christopher Sadowski, a professional photographer from New Jersey, stated that he had authorised a picture of NFL linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Reggie Howard to be used in the New York Post, credited to him.

He further claimed that Bleacher Report had copied the article from the page and then “intentionally and knowingly removed copyright management information identifying plaintiff as the photographer”.

The Bleacher Report article, titled “15 nice stories about athletes we hate”, featured a segment on Lewis as one of the 15 stories, speaking about a time he “mentored a young victim of tragedy”. The article also included an image of Howard.

The photograph, which was given a copyright registration number of VA 1-900-262 at the US Copyright Office, has since been removed from the article.

“The acts of infringement by Bleacher have been wilful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifference to plaintiff’s rights,” the complaint read.

Sadowski is seeking damages, a transfer of profits, costs, attorneys’ fees and a jury trial.

The case is the third time Bleacher Report has been sued in the US for copyright infringement relating to photographs.

In 2016, BWP Media sued over a string of photographs but the case was voluntarily dismissed. In 2012, a case brought by National Photo Group was dismissed by the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

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