Court Upholds Landmark Jury Verdict for Willkie Client, Photojournalist Daniel Morel

August 14, 2014

District Court upholds the jury’s verdict that Agence France-Presse and Getty Images (US) Inc. must pay $1.22 million for willfully infringing Mr. Morel’s copyrights in his award-winning images of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

On August 13, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a Decision and Order upholding the jury’s verdict that Agence France-Presse and Getty Images (US) Inc. must pay $1.22 million for willfully infringing photojournalist Daniel Morel’s copyrights in his award-winning images of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Willkie is representing Mr. Morel in the case, which has received widespread media attention.

In the Decision, the Court rejected defendants’ argument that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the defendants acted willfully when they wrongfully misappropriated and transmitted Mr. Morel’s photographs to over 1,000 of their subscribers and licensees. The Court also left intact the jury’s award of the maximum statutory damages available under the Copyright Act. The Court held: “There was evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Defendants' infringement (and particularly AFP's) was not just willful but reflected a gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders.”

After learning of the Decision, Mr. Morel said, “I am grateful that Judge Nathan recognizes the value of a photojournalist’s work and that she is holding AFP and Getty Images fully responsible for what they did to me. I hope no other photojournalist will have to go through a similar ordeal.”

In its feature article, entitled “Willkie Preserves Copyright Win for Haitian Photographer,” The AmLaw Litigation Daily highlights that “It fell to Willkie’s [Joseph] Baio to make Morel’s case to the jury. After a week-long trial before Nathan, jurors found that AFP and Getty engaged in willful infringement and awarded Morel $1.2 million in statutory damages, which was the maximum allowable under the Copyright Act.”

The case was handled by Mr. Baio and associates Emma J. James, Teri Seigal and Maureen Kellett, and legal assistant Monica Jones.

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