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AFP v. Morel continues as case moves to discovery phase

Freelance photographer Daniel Morel's case against Agence France Presse and Getty Images is now in its pre-trial phase, BJP understands

The high-profile case pitting freelance photographer Daniel Morel against Agence France Presse and Getty Images is continuing, BJP has been told.

In December 2010, the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York declined Agence France Presse’s requests to dismiss Morel’s claims against the agency. Morel accuses the agency of benefiting from the illegal distribution of images he took of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

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Agence France Presse, on the other hand, accuses Morel of engaging in an “antagonistic assertion of rights,” and has also sued the photographer.

However, in its December ruling, the court found that the photographer could go ahead with his claims based on the Copyright Act and the Millennium Copyright Act – a decision that significantly strengthened Morel’s case.

BJP understands that all parties are now engaged in what is referred to, in American law, as the discovery stage. Discovery “is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices including requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions.”

According to a source close to the proceedings, the discovery phase could help both parties to reach a settlement. “Review of documents is a necessary part for both sides to determine what they think is a fair settlement,” the source tells BJP. “Everyone always wants to settle, it’s a question of what the defendants are willing to pay and what the plaintiff is willing to accept.”

A trial date has yet to be set.