'American Chopper' Reality TV Star Loses $258,484.45 Lawsuit Against a Photographer

Being a face of reality TV does not entitle you to take advantage of other artists and their intellectual property. "American Chopper" star Paul Teutul Sr. and his son Michael "Mikey" Teutul found that out in the hard way.

There are different misconceptions when it comes to using and violating someone's intellectual property, such as in the case of photography business. From less informed individuals assuming that everything that can be found online is available to be downloaded, used, and reproduced, to people who are actually aware of restrictions and knowingly breaching them regardless.   

It has not been said in which category does Paul Teutul Sr. and his son Michael "Mikey" Teutul fall in, but the pair have been successfully sued by a photographer. The copyright case was based on an allegation that the two had commercially used a photograph of Michael without any permission from the artist. They did not own the original copyright to it but used the photograph on the reality show and for its merchandise. Furthermore, they used one of the photographer's images to promote Michael's art exhibition, without obtaining a right to do so. According to the photographer, the image had contained his logo, however, he claimed that they had removed it. 

Although it is unknown how much money was made off the merchandise, the judge sided with the photographer and ordered Paul Teutul Sr. to pay out $258,484.45 for using the claimant's artwork without permission. This lawsuit loss has added to Paul's other financial troubles, such as having been sued for fraud, owing taxes and having to file for bankruptcy, leaving his show's future in jeopardy. This case is similar to other celebrities misusing artists' work without permission and resulting in lawsuits, such as those of Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande. It is refreshing to see that there are consequences imposed on those who may claim ignorance when using someone else's work and profiting from it.

Lead image by Wikipedia user Antônio Cruz used under Creative Commons.

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4 Comments

Tony Clark's picture

I hate to see bad things happen to people but there is a price to be paid for violating one’s Intellectual Property. I hope the photographer receives his judgement in a timely manner and is a warning to others.

Deleted Account's picture

And this, amongst many other reasons, is why I no longer use Fakebook, Instasham and most recently, 500px. They hold the right to do exactly what these 'Reality stars' have been sued for.

clint smith's picture

The Teutuls sued a local here in Texas several years ago for making t-shirts with the OCC logo on them. Guess they didn't think the same thing applied to them.

Michael Phelan's picture

Couldn't have happened to a better person.