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Artist Files Copyright Suit against Apple for Retina Display Photo

1. Copyright infringement report - Sabine Liewald vs. Apple
Sabine Liewald of Switzerland has filed a copyright lawsuit against Apple for their use of her registered photograph used in connection with Apple's latest Retina Display based MacBook Pro ad campaign without proper license.


Background Facts


The Plaintiff created and owns the photograph entitled "Eye Closeup" this is the subject of this litigation.



2. Exhibit 1


Apple obtained Plaintiff's photograph from Plaintiff's agent, Factory Downtown. Apple requested a high-resolution file of this photograph for "comping" (or layout) purposes only, and was fully aware at all times that it had not acquired any rights to use the photograph in advertisements without obtaining additional permission from Plaintiff or Factory Downtown.


Apple subsequently informed Factory Downtown that it did not intend to uses the "Eye Closeup" photograph in the advertising campaign for Apple's MacBook Pro computers. Despite representing that it did not intend to use the photo and knowing that it had not obtained a license, Apple proceeded to copy, publish, and exploit Plaintiff's photograph, including in its MacBook Pro advertising campaign, keynote addresses and related advertising materials without permission or compensation. See e.g. Exhibit 2 below.


3B. Exhibit 2


Switzerland's Sabine Liewald has registered her copyrights in the photograph as part of Copyright Registration Number VA0001827874. The photograph is also protected under the Byne Convention as a non-United States work. Liewald claims that she's entitled to actual damages including defendant's profits; statutory damages for the infringing use of the "Eye Closeup" photograph.  


4. Phil Schiller June 2012 WWDC presentation Shows Eye Closeup Photo in Context with Adobe Photoshop

The noted photo on the left is from CNET and the photo on the right is from Geek-News MTV. By adding in the latter twist to her claim, as in "entitled to actual damages including defendant's profits," is likely where the disagreement rests.


The case was filed in the United States District Court for New York Southern District Court. The presiding Judge in this case is noted as being Judge Jesse M. Furman. 


T8.1 General Break


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Sites Covering our Original Report


MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, Mac Hash, Apple Obsession, CNET, Mac Talk Australia, Cult of Mac9to5 Mac, PetaPixel, MacTalks, Apfeltalk Germany, One More Thing Netherlands, Macgasm, iClarifiedBelgium-iPhone, Gizmodo, Gizmodo AustraliaComplexTech, NZZ (in German) Switzerland, TechSpy, PCtipp Switzerland, Onet Technowinki Poland, ITProPortal, Mac Life Germany, PCMag, Techdirt, Völgyi
Attila fotóriporter blogja
Hungary, redOrbit, and more.




Without wishing to take sides, I'm pretty sure Apple has a policy of use and abuse other people's work and patents and pay later if we have to, just like most other large global corporations. They figure that it's worth the risk of the victim not realising or caring or being too intimidated by court procedures and associated costs like lawers to bother following it up.

That or it's a simple unprofessional oversight, but the cynic in me suggests it's far more likely to be the former.

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