Tony Stone lawsuit against Corel

From: J. Trant, Manager, Getty AHIP Imaging Initiative <jtrant[_at_]io.org>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 12:23:12 +0500

>Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 06:49:05 -0500
>Errors-To: sdayj[_at_]cc.curtin.edu.au
>Reply-To: SDAYJ[_at_]cc.curtin.edu.au
>Originator: stockphoto[_at_]info
>Sender: stockphoto[_at_]info.curtin.edu.au
>Precedence: bulk
>From: SDAYJ[_at_]cc.curtin.edu.au
>To: Multiple recipients of list <stockphoto[_at_]info.curtin.edu.au>
>Subject: Tony Stone lawsuit against Corel
>X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
>
>
>>From Photo Pro Forum on CompuServe, courtesy of Greg Vaughn:
>
>This is from a press release from stock photo agent Tony Stone Images.
>
> See also message "Corel contest suit 2" for a follow-up.
> - - - - - - -
>
> TONY STONE IMAGES FILES SUIT AGAINST COREL CONTEST WINNER
> Copyright Infringement Suit Could Be Precedent-Setting Case
>
> CHICAGO (September 21, 1994) ... In a lawsuit that may begin to clear
>the legal quandary surrounding computer generated imagery, Tony Stone
>Images/Chicago, Inc., a part of the Tony Stone Images group that is a world
>leader in stock photography, filed suit today in Canada^Rs Ontario Court
>(General Division) against Corel Corporation and its Corel Draw World
>Design Contest winner Stephen Arscott.
> The case, which concerns Arscott illegally using a photograph by Nick
>Vedros, a photographer represented by Tony Stone Images, is expected to
>draw the attention of groups spanning the graphic design and photography
>industries, considering the decision's impact on international copyright
>infringement law and practice.
> Arscott is being sued for copyright infringement for submitting what he
>claimed was an original design to the Corel Draw World Design Contest, but
>in reality copied a photograph entitled Potawatamie Indian as published in
>the Tony Stone Images^R Volume 5 catalogue from 1993. Arscott credited the
>conception of the idea to himself, even signing a document for the contest
>to that effect, and as a result of his Best of Show placement, received
>more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. The winning entry was also
>scheduled to be used on promotional materials for Corel Corporation, based
>in Ottawa, Ontario.
> The violation was first spotted in Corel Magazine (a totally unrelated
>entity from Corel Corporation) in an article in its June, 1994 edition. It
>described the international competition, held by Corel Corporation,
>featuring more than 6,700 entries, representing 45 countries and honoring
>its winners at a black-tie, celebrity-studded gala. The contest judges
>selected "The Real West" by Stephen Arscott as the Best of Show winner.
>The drawing depicts an Indian in side profile, a United States flag and a
>cowboy. The focal point of the drawing, the Indian, is identical to the
>Vedros photograph, which is apparent to anyone at first look.
> Corel Corporation has indicated it will halt any further use of the
>award winning design, but to this date, has not published word of the
>infringement by its winner, nor has it made any effort to disqualify
>Arscott and force him to return his accolades. Furthermore, Corel has not
>made any indication it will review the eligible contest entries to
>determine who the rightful winner should be.
> Arscott, of Mississauga, Ontario, does not deny copying the photograph
>for his contest entry, but does claim he was unaware his entry constituted
>an infringement. He says he believed his imitation of the Vedros
>photograph to be legal based on the transfer of the image from one medium
>to another (that is, photograph to drawing).
> "Copyright protection is clear-cut on this issue," says Brian Wolske,
>President of Tony Stone Images^R North American Operations. "It is across
>the board, regardless of medium, and if it is determined that Arscott was
>indeed unaware of his illegal actions, then there is an immediate
>obligation to educate the visual arts community on what constitutes
>copyright infringement. A positive by-product of this lawsuit just might be
>that education."
> Despite the admission he copied the photograph, Arscott has refused to
>return the premium items he received and has not surrendered his Best of
>Show status. Additionally, in a move that further aggravated the original
>infringement, Arscott submitted a modified image of his design in which
>some details of the Indian were altered, but still constituted a derivation
>from, the Potawatamie Indian. According to Gerard Blink, Director of Tony
>Stone Images^R Canadian Operations, "Modifying the image does not remove
>the taint; under U.S. and Canadian copyright law the infringement remains
>the same." Corel Corporation's initial intention was to consider the design
>as a substitute for the award-winning entry, but ultimately Corel dismissed
>the idea upon the urging of Tony Stone Images^R attorneys.
> Prior to filing the complaint in court, Wolske and Tony Stone Images'
>attorneys contacted both Corel Corporation and Arscott but neither
>defendant initiated sufficient steps to rectify the situation. While Corel
>has agreed not to use the drawing in the future, it has made no effort to
>contact the people who hold previously disseminated information about the
>contest to notify them of developments. At least one magazine article has
>surfaced as a result of the earlier information, further exploiting the
>unauthorized use of Vedros^R copyrighted photograph.
> "We are stunned by the reckless position Corel is taking by continuing
>to uphold Arscott^Rs infringing design as the winning entry," says Wolske.
>"By not initiating concrete action to repair this wrongful situation, such
>as publicly rescinding Arscott's status and declaring a new winner, Corel
>is supporting the violation of photographers' rights and setting an
>irresponsible example for graphic designers to follow in the future."
> Wolske also stresses that this is not simply a case where only a
>retroactive licensing fee would correct the damage. "We would not have
>licensed a photograph for a use such as this in the first place," says
>Wolske. "We do license pictures for digital imagery use, but it is not our
>practice to supply photographs to be copied for entry into a contest with
>open-ended usage."
> Tony Stone Images is seeking damages against Arscott in excess of
>$400,000 plus costs. The damage amount is based on the size of the prize
>and industry custom in regards to unauthorized use.
> Against Corel, Tony Stone Images is seeking an injunction legally
>prohibiting the corporation from using the design for any purpose and
>instructing Corel to notify those who are unaware of the infringement to
>head-off future use. As Brian Wolske states, " We cannot, in good faith,
>allow Corel Corporation to set this inappropriate standard for graphic
>designers, publishers and the computer industry in general. We simply want
>them to be held responsible for their actions, or lack thereof. Hopefully,
>this case will establish a precedent that will clearly protect
>photographers in the future."
> Ironically, this lawsuit in Canada appears at a time when legislators
>in the United States are analyzing their own copyright infringement laws.
>The proposed Copyright Reform Act currently being considered in the U.S.
>would repeal section 412 of the current law. Considering the confusion
>surrounding copyright law in regards to computer generated imagery,
>discussions addressing this issue would appear timely .
> Tony Stone Images is among the largest stock photography agencies in
>the world. They house collections from different photographers, with total
>images numbering in the millions, that can be licensed for specific
>commercial use. The company, which aims to provide superb visual imagery to
>help others communicate better, was established in 1964 by London-based
>photographer Tony Stone. The idea flourished and the company now spans the
>world, including operations throughout North America, Europe and the Far
>East.

J. Trant
Manager, Imaging Initiative
Getty Art History Information Program
jtrant[_at_]getty.edu phone: (310) 451-6381 fax: (310) 451-5570 Received on Thu Nov 24 1994 - 17:18:45 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Mar 26 2007 - 00:35:13 GMT