Apple sued over alleged misuse of photo in MacBook Pro promotion

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A Swiss photographer has filed suit against Apple for allegedly using an incorrectly licensed image to promote the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, with the artist asking for damages plus associated profits.

Eye Closeup
Photographer Sabine Liewald's "Eye Closeup" as seen on Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina display.


The claim asserted by Sabine Liewald says that Apple purchased rights to use the image, titled "Eye Closeup," for "layout purposes only," but went on to display the photograph in a number of commercial applications.

As noted by CNET, Apple used the photograph to show off the company's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display when the product was announced in June.

According to the claim, Apple obtained a high-resolution file of "Eye Closeup" for what is known as "comping," or layout, purposes. Usually, comping images are provided at low-resolution and are watermarked to dissuade their use in ads or marketing without receiving permission to do so from content owners.

Although the photograph is not considered a "United States work" by the Copyright Act, Liewald says the image is covered by copyright law and is also "protected as under the Berne Convention as a non-United States work."

Liewald asserts that by "commercially exploiting" the image, Apple caused statutory damages while "obtaining significant economic gains," suggesting the photograph is to be credited for at least some part of the MacBook Pro's success.

The suit was filed on Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and asks for damages of each infringing use of the "Eye Closeup" photograph, profits associated with its use and incurred legal fees.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 121


    Let's go back and look at another case like this: the iPad's default Springboard image.


     


    The guy responsible for it didn't know Apple had used it until a friend told him, right? And what did he do afterward? He was honored and probably saw a surge in popularity/publicity of his other photos.


     


    That's how you take a situation like this.

  • Reply 2 of 121
    Apple likes to knit pick.. Why can't people outside the corporation?
  • Reply 3 of 121
    There were also the two lawsuits by Louis Psihoyos over the similarity of early Apple TV promotional ads to his "1000 TVs" image.
  • Reply 4 of 121
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,319member


    What I don't understand is that if they used the "Comping" image of the photography, then how did it become hi-res enough for print and HDTV ads? How did they obtain the hi-resolution image without paying for a license? It sounds like this guy got his $1.59 worth of royalties from a stock photo web site and now wants to milk Apple for millions.

  • Reply 5 of 121
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    It's _nit_ pick. I'm outside the corporation, so I assume that's what you mean?

    So did someone buy the computer specifically because the eye picture was in the ads? Just curious, how do you determine damages? For that matter, I find that the eye is sort of scary looking, so maybe that's what kept me from buying the Mac Pro Retina? That could have dissuaded others as well, so maybe he owes Apple damages now...

    Or maybe he could have just asked them for the going rate for using an image instead of being a lawsuit happy wanker, especially considering that they clearly DID license it in the first place and most likely missed the fine print saying it was layout only?
  • Reply 6 of 121
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member


    If true, I say what's good for the goose is good for the gander.  Same as the Swiss Railway clock (though I would've probably just changed the design on that).


     


    Apple's marketing department and advertising firm(s) should have an innate understanding of this stuff.

  • Reply 7 of 121


    Apple license the Swiss Railroad and now we got other Swiss guy coming out of wood works - There is a word for this practice - Doesn't come to my mind right now!

  • Reply 8 of 121
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    This is exactly like what Samsung stole from Apple¡
  • Reply 9 of 121
    Usually the comping images are in low res. If the image is in high res but with watermarks, chances are that the clearing house forgot to remove the watermarks for the licensed copy.
  • Reply 10 of 121
    No one ever says, "Hey, Apple. I think you used my image without properly licensing it. What can we do do make this right?" They all just wait to sue. They just see dollar signs.
  • Reply 11 of 121
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by grblade View Post



    No one ever says, "Hey, Apple. I think you used my image without properly licensing it. What can we do do make this right?" They all just wait to sue. They just see dollar signs.


     


    That is actually exactly what Swiss Federal Railways said: Apple reaches license agreement for Swiss rail clock design

  • Reply 12 of 121
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by radster360 View Post


    Apple license the Swiss Railroad and now we got other Swiss guy coming out of wood works - There is a word for this practice - Doesn't come to my mind right now!



     


    Compensated?  :smirk:

  • Reply 13 of 121
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    jkichline wrote: »
    What I don't understand is that if they used the "Comping" image of the photography, then how did it become hi-res enough for print and HDTV ads? How did they obtain the hi-resolution image without paying for a license? It sounds like this guy got his $1.59 worth of royalties from a stock photo web site and now wants to milk Apple for millions.

    If it's true they only got the rights for layout purposes, then they didn't get the rights for this use, period.
  • Reply 14 of 121
    Funny on two fronts:

    1. More than alleged since the image was used for sure.

    2. The giant ego on Swiss-Miss thinking the photo is the factor that sold more computers. Never mind the fact it has a screen never seen on a computer before it.

    He or she needs to drive their Ford into the nearest fjord.
  • Reply 15 of 121
    vvk1vvk1 Posts: 4member
    That's a really ugly picture.
  • Reply 16 of 121
    19841984 Posts: 955member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


     


    That is actually exactly what Swiss Federal Railways said: Apple reaches license agreement for Swiss rail clock design



     


     


    I don't think they actually sued over it nor did they ever claim it was why people were buying iPads.

  • Reply 17 of 121
    19841984 Posts: 955member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mrstep View Post



    So did someone buy the computer specifically because the eye picture was in the ads? Just curious, how do you determine damages? For that matter, I find that the eye is sort of scary looking, so maybe that's what kept me from buying the Mac Pro Retina? That could have dissuaded others as well, so maybe he owes Apple damages now...


     


     


    I find that eye image deeply disturbing and will be suing the photographer for emotional distress.

  • Reply 18 of 121


    Originally Posted by Dookie Howsre View Post

    He or she needs to drive their Ford into the nearest fjord.


     


    Don't panic.

  • Reply 19 of 121

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by grblade View Post



    No one ever says, "Hey, Apple. I think you used my image without properly licensing it. What can we do do make this right?" They all just wait to sue. They just see dollar signs.


     


    Depends.  If he approached Apple, and either got stonewalled or laughed at, well then one needs to take further action.


     


    That said, people do run to their attorneys first.  Experienced it personally: I inadvertently used some copyrighted text in an app.  Rather than approach me and ask reasonably (they had a fair claim, I would've gladly worked with them), the copyright holder sent their attorney straight in, with threats of eight-figure damages if the app wasn't immediately pulled.  And that was over a FREE app, and pockets far shallower than Apple's. :(

  • Reply 20 of 121
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    Let's go back and look at another case like this: the iPad's default Springboard image.

    The guy responsible for it didn't know Apple had used it until a friend told him, right? And what did he do afterward? He was honored and probably saw a surge in popularity/publicity of his other photos.

    That's how you take a situation like this.

    Oh puleese....
    Since when is probably a successful business proposition? Flattery pays no bills.
    Image rights are ultra specific in relation to usage. If, as the article hints, Apple only paid for layout rights as specified by the purchase agreement and assuming the contract is legal ie the photographer exercised due diligence, then Apple will have to pay. And pay they should.
    These sort of overlooked details are inevitable within an organisation as big as Apple and seemingly, they are slow to tie-off any loose ends. If it takes the threat of bad publicity and the losing end of the argument for Apple to react, then that is what the photographer or agency must do.
    Disclosure. Have sued and won damages for improper use of an image and the misappropriation of image profits. The settlement was negotiated out of court and I signed a non-disclosure agreement ré the parties involved and amount settled.
    Exactly the same thing will happen here - with the above provisos being true.
    And no more will be heard of it...other than the echoing reporting of the OP, around the webz of course.
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