30 August 2019CopyrightRory O'Neill

Photographer reaches ‘favourable settlement’ with Clorox over cat portraits

Photographer Jill Greenberg has reached a “favourable settlement” with household products manufacturer the Clorox Company over its use of her cat portraits in an advertising campaign, according to her lawyers.

Greenberg sued Clorox and marketing agency Dentsu McGarry Bowen in April this year, claiming that they had used her work in a marketing campaign without permission or a licence.

The photographer originally licensed her photography series of cats walking on glass to Clorox and Dentsu in 2017, for the purposes of a limited marketing campaign for Clorox’s ‘FreshStep’ cat litter.

The contract governing the licensing deal came with certain conditions, prohibiting the use of the photos in “any video format”.

Greenberg also only licensed the photos for a “one-time project of limited usage and duration”, the complaint said.

The photographer chose to sue after Clorox and Dentsu allegedly violated the terms of the licence, by modifying the images and using them in promotional online videos.

The photos were also featured in pop-up galleries in New York and Los Angeles, and offered in downloadable formats as mobile phone and desktop wallpapers.

According to Greenberg, the defendants marketed the wallpapers as “exclusive works of art from our Cats on Glass Gallery”.

Michael Siem and Debra Doby, partners at Goldberg Segalla’s Manhattan office, who represented Greenberg, have now said they have obtained a “favourable settlement”.

“This case demonstrates the inherent tension between industry practices and best practices to secure adequate protections for artists' work,” they said.

“It is important that the parties clearly define … the scope of the work to be done and the agreed upon usage so that the artist is fairly compensated for the use of their copyrights,” they added.

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23 April 2019   Photographer Jill Greenberg is suing advertising agency Dentsu McGarry Bowen and consumer products manufacturer the Clorox Company for copyright infringement after they allegedly misused licensed portraits of cats on glass.