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NFL sued by photographers over copyright infringement

Football fans in Massachusetts and around the country may be interested to learn that a group of seven freelance photographers have filed a lawsuit against the NFL and other companies for copyright infringement. The other defendants named in this business litigation case are the Associated Press and Getty Images. The federal suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Oct. 21, alleges that thousands of photographs were used by the defendants with complete disregard for the legal rights of their copyright owners.

Freelance photographers are not paid to take photographs at NFL games, according to one of their attorneys. They attend the contests at their own expense and earn a living from royalty payments they receive when their images are used. The attorney accused the NFL of double standards, remarking that the league was aggressive in protecting its own intellectual property but failed to apply these standards to others.

The photographers were also praised by their attorney for their "courage" in bringing the lawsuit. The Associated Press and Getty Images have significant influence, and the plaintiffs' future careers could be in jeopardy as a result of the suit. The suit asks for a permanent injunction to prevent the NFL from selling or using the plaintiffs' work as well as statutory damages under the Copyright Act. The plaintiffs are also seeking compensation for lost income due to the unlawful use of their work.

Legal actions like this show that all businesses, regardless of their notoriety or size, must follow the law. An attorney who is knowledgeable about IP law may be able to help protect a client's intellectual property and copyrights. These efforts could include taking legal action when these rights are violated by other companies or individuals.

Source: Forbes, "Is The NFL Committing Copyright Infringement By Using Photos Without Consent?", Darren Heitner, October 23, 2013

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