In January I broke the news Canon Italia had posted a landscape composite without credit, stolen elements, and which were taken on a Fujifilm. It garnered quite a lot of attention and Canon Italia replied, only making matters worse. Well, Elia Locardi has taken the situation to court.
I'll start by offering a brief recap of events, but should you want to read about what happened as it played out, here are the two articles that inform this one:
For those of you who want a TL;DR version, here's a timeline as it stands currently:
10th January 2018: Canon used a photo on their Facebook page that was composited using stolen elements of Locardi's work.
10th January 2018: Fstoppers post the issue and the photography community compare the images, concluding almost unanimously that it contains elements of Locardi's image.
10th January 2018: Locardi gets in touch with Nico Trinkhause from PhotoClaim regarding the legality of the case at hand.
12th January 2018: Canon denies it's stolen and refuses all blame.
16th January 2018: Lawyers advise to send a Cease and Desist letter to Canon Italia prohibiting use of Locardi's photo in any way.
22nd January 2018: Locardi agrees and the Cease and Desist letter is sent to Canon.
28th January 2018: Canon failed to submit a declaration to cease and desist within the given deadline and Locardi's lawyers file for an injunction in court. (NB: Locardi informed me that Canon did have a lawyer of their own get in contact, but they didn't send a declaration and only wanted to talk on the phone and not in writing.)
1st February 2018: The District Court of Berlin issues an injunction in which it forbids Canon Italia S.p.A. to use Elia's photograph "Photographing The World 2 - Lesson 6 - Italy - Vatican View" in parts or as whole. In case of offending this injunction, a penalty of up to €250,000 payable to the state or up to 6 months imprisonment of the Managing Director can be set by the court.
7th February 2018: Lawyer receives the injunction issued by court and needs to deliver it to Canon Italia.
20th February 2018: Canon's German office refuse to accept the letter as they are the German office and it is pertaining to Canon Italia. As a result, the PhotoClaim team deliver the letter, in person, to Canon Italia (pictured below).
28th February 2018: The image has still not been taken down.
Copyright and photography are in a complicated relationship status. I've written on the topic many times and for everything from university syllabuses to small blogs, yet it never fails to surprise me. This time, at least, it appears to be surprising me in the right way. That is, the courts have come down firmly and promptly on the photographer's side in a case that could have wandered in the gray area for some time. However, the situation isn't satisfactorily resolved yet, and it leaves me with two closing thoughts.
Firstly, can Canon just continue to ignore this without punishment? The injunction's wording is terrifying to us small-town minnows, but for a global corporation with — presumably — a small army of legal professionals, can they just weather the storm? Secondly, I find myself still troubled by the image I posted on the Canon response article:
Greg Paul Miller, the photographer who originally stole elements from Locardi's work, has seemingly slithered away unscathed. He stole parts of a photographer's work (which he has liked and can confirmed thanks to social media), passed it off it as his own, and then had the audacity to distribute it for free and without usage limitations, thousands of times.
I've spoken to Locardi throughout this case, and since its recent developments he reflected on the larger situation:
I think that as photographers, we need to stand up for our rights — especially when it comes to companies trying to use our images for free online. We must remember that the images we create do have a value and thanks to companies like PhotoClaim.com, we have a way to fight back against image theft. If we all work together to fight image theft, maybe we can reshape the industry to once again value our images.
It's worth highlighting the good work PhotoClaim.com offer. Locardi has been working with them for nearly a year with nothing but high praise for what they do and the results they get. I hope our readers never have to use a service like this, but should you find yourself in that situation, they are a worthy port to call.
All in all, a positive resolution of sorts is in motion and honestly, I hope this case concludes as a trilogy and I'm not compelled to write how even the courts can't stop image theft. What are your thoughts?