Home Arts Judge dismisses copyright lawsuit over artwork featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg photograph

Judge dismisses copyright lawsuit over artwork featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg photograph

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A lawsuit alleging an Atlanta artist’s use of a famous photograph of the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg violated copyright law has been dismissed by a federal judge this week.

Creative Photographers is a commercial photography agency that represents artists like Ruvén Afanador, who photography Ginsburg in 2009 for The New York Times magazine. The agency sued Atlanta-based artist Julie Torres in 2021, alleging she used Afandor’s image of the late judge without permission to create screen prints and multimedia works.

Torres’ work featuring Ginsburg’s portrait has sold for up to $12,000, according to the Creative Photographers complaint, and a serigraph is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art At New York. Great Diva! (2020) was created following Ginsburg’s death in September 2020 amid “reflection on his historical legacy and the great loss his death presented to Court and country,” according to the museum’s website.

Creative Photographers claimed sole licensee of Afandor’s images and accused Torres of deliberately discrediting Alfanador’s photography in his works. Torres filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last year.

U.S. District Judge Jean-Paul Boulee ruled this week that Creative Photographers did not own Alfanador’s copyright and that the agency’s signed agreement with the photographer made him its exclusive agent but not necessarily the licensee. exclusive of his work. Although the agreement included a clause regarding exclusive licensing, the contract does not include stipulations that cover derivative works like Torres’ prints and multimedia creations, Boulee wrote.

While Boulee dismissed Creative Photographers’ lawsuit, he said he would give the agency two weeks to rework the suit and refile.

Last month, a jury in New York ruled that a digital artist violated trademark law with his line of NFT “MetaBirkins” (non-fungible tokens) in a lawsuit brought by luxury brand Hermès. The jury ruled that NFTs are not protected speech under the First Amendment and are subject to trademark law, which has more rigid guidelines on the use of logos, brand names and other symbols. distinctive.

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