Florida District Court rules that a dentist's photos of his patient's teeth are not protectable by copyright laws because they lack creative spark. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the case.
IPWatchdog.com recently reported on a case involving the image copyrights of before and after photos Dr. Mitchell Pohl took to showcase his work. The Dr. performed a reverse image search on one of his images and found them being used without his consent on seven different websites being run by the same health care marketing company. So he sued for copyright infringement. The circuit court decided that the image lacked originality and a creative spark. "There is nothing remotely creative about taking close-up photographs of teeth" and "No pair of eyes on a reasonable jury [could] find any modicum of creativity or originality in these photographs.” I am surprised by this pointed language. It makes you wonder if the Judge who presided over this case is an internet commenter.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (known for handling copyright cases) stated that the district court did not consider all of the evidence. They specifically mentioned the fact that "The photographs need only possess some minimal degree of creativity. And it cannot be said that Dr. Pohl's pictures are 'slavish copies' of an underlying work." For this, the court threw out the case. The images were taken down from all seven websites.
To me, this seems like a ridiculous waste of time and money. I don't think before and after images of teeth would be worth my time. I guess Dr. Pohl feels very strongly about copyright laws. There is something honorable about that.
Copyright law can be tough to understand, but also fundamental for our community to follow. If you have any experience with copyright law, I would love to hear your take on this case.
Lead photo used under Creative Commons: Danjhon