Posted by: Jeff Langevin | April 5, 2009

Flight Copyright Fight

Many of you recently attended the BPC meeting on copyright issues surrounding the images we create.  Well, here’s an example of how things can go wrong for the little guy:

A photographer out of New York by the name of Stephen Mallon was hired by Weeks Marine, a crane company doing recovery work on US Airways Flight 1549, to document the recovery effort.  Flight 1549 is the flight that had to perform an emergency landing in the Hudson River recently after allegedly hitting a flock of birds after take-off.

After some convoluted communications regarding whether he could post them to his website, he eventually received a cease and desist order from the insurance company AIG.   The order claimed that Mallon did not own copyright to the images and could never, under any circumstances, release the photos to anyone.

Mallon was not working under a work-for-hire agreement, nor did he sign any contract that gave away his rights.  Therefore, under US copyright law, he owns his images.  However, as a sole proprietor photographer, he is being bullied by a corporation that has deep pockets and likely even still deeper connections.  ASMP is suggesting he tread cautiously while this saga plays out.

In a time where photographer’s rights are slowly being eroded away, this is an issue that we all must watch closely and get the word out about as much as possible.  You can read specifics of the story and see a couple of the images in question over at The Online Photographer.


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