The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) filed an amicus brief on Wednesday supporting photographer Jacobus (“Co”) Rentmeester’s petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the appeal of his case against Nike, Inc. for infringing upon his copyrighted photograph of NBA mega-star Michael Jordan.
Rentmeester "wants the U.S. Supreme Court to draw the line between when two pictures are just similar and when one is a rip-off," a Dec. 17 story said in Bloomberg Law. Rentmeester filed his suit in 2014.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the NPPA, told Bloomberg Law, “Nike just decided, ‘We’re going to recreate the image.’ I have a real problem with that.”
In the 25-page amicus brief, the NPPA and the ASMP said that a photograph should share the same protections as novels or songs. But a split Ninth Circuit ruling upholding a decision that found Nike was clear to copy the image for its logo undermines those protections, ruling it wasn't substantially similar to Rentmeester 1984 image.
The organizations urged the Supreme Court to overturn the appellate ruling, arguing that the decision harms photographers, who have the history of copyright law on their side, as well as the country as a whole.
“It is the outlet and transformation of those ideas into tangible expressions of artistry that connect with viewers now and into the future,” the associations said in their brief. “That is what Mr. Rentmeester created here, and that is what was stolen; no less than the core of the creative outlet that copyright law has sought to protect since the founding of this country.”
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the NPPA, will further write about this case in the next News Photographer magazine.
The full article by Bloomberg Law.
The full article by Law360 (behind a paywall).
The PDF Rentmeester v Nike Complaint 01-22-15