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AFP v Morel: Judge reconsiders potential damages

Daniel Morel has been dealt a blow in his three-year-long legal battle against Agence France-Presse and Getty Images after a judge has reconsidered the amount of statutory damages the freelance photographer will be able to claim

Agence France-Presse and Getty Images have asked a New York court to reconsider its decision to reject summary judgement in regards to the statutory damages freelance photographer Daniel Morel can claim.

The request for reconsideration concerns whether “Morel could be entitled to recover one statutory award per work infringed from AFP and one from Getty, for a total of two awards per work infringed,” writes District Judge Alison J Nathan. Both companies infringed on eight of Morel’s images.

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The photographer argues that “he should be allowed to seek one statutory award from AFP for its wrongful misappropriation and downstream licensing for every infringed work and one award from Getty for each of Morel’s photographs that it licensed after AFP directed Getty to remove the images from all of its systems and to stop using or licensing the works,” the judge summarises.

In effect, Morel argues that he should be entitled to claim 16 statutory damages awards, while AFP and Getty say he should only be allowed to claim eight awards.

In a decision presented on 21 May, the judge found against Morel. “The court concludes, as a matter of law, that, in cases such as this, a plaintiff seeking statutory damages for copyright infringement may not multiply the number of per-work awards available in an action by pursuing separate theories of individual liability against otherwise jointly liable defendants.”

The case continues, and will be judged in front of a jury from 16 September.