“Trophy Pose” Football Player Countersues Photographer
In 1991, Brian Masck photographed famed football player Desmond Howard in what has become known as “The Trophy Pose” in reference to the Heisman Trophy. That image has become recognized as one of the greatest photographs in sports and has gone on to be published all over the world in everything from Sports Illustrated to advertisements to the cover of a video game. At the moment, Masck is involved in lawsuits suing several entities that have used the image without his permission, including Sports Illustrated, Nissan and Desmond Howard, himself. Desmond Howard wasn’t super thrilled with that and decided to countersue Masck over the use of his likeness.
Now, as we all know, the photographer owns the rights to his images. Therefore, Masck is 100% in the right to go after everyone that has stolen his images commercially. We also know that many high-profile athletes have a pretty high opinion of themselves. Howard wants to know why someone is suing him over a photo of himself. I can only imagine his lawyer face-palming as he writes the statements.
“My client tried for a long time to suppress his disappointment and for not being recognized…(Masck) wants a permanent injunction against the misuse of his picture and wants their profits. But even of a higher priority to Brian Masck, he wants credit. … It’s no different than any artist.”
This does, however, raise one decent point, albeit indirectly. NCAA athletes sign their life away to play college ball. Their compensation is minimal at best. If they are injured, for example, it gets paid for. But if they are injured badly enough to affect them for the rest of their life, that compensation doesn’t exist.
The NCAA is projected to make about $800 million this year.
We know that Howard’s suit isn’t going anywhere. We also know that Masck is right in going after those who have used his image without compensation. But there is an interesting point in the the grander scheme about one person being the sole profiteer from someone else’s likeness – when the reason for the profit is the person that is not directly making money from it (although in this case, he directly was). What do you think?