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Stock Photos Warning
New York

Key point 9-05.08. Copyright infringement occurs when one violates any one or more of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner.

Key point § 9-05.11. Publishers cannot place the contents of magazines and other periodicals in online electronic databases and on CD-ROMs without obtaining the permission of writers whose articles were included in those periodicals.

A federal court in New York ruled that a company that purchased a license to use various stock photos could be sued for copyright infringement for using the photos beyond the permission granted in the licensing agreement. A licensing agency (the "plaintiff") licenses stock photographs for a licensing fee. A publisher (the "defendant") entered in several license agreements with the plaintiff to use specified stock photos in various publications. These licenses were "expressly limited by number of copies, distribution area, image size, language, duration and/or media (print or electronic)." The agreements also stated that the plaintiff "reserves the right to bill the customer (and the customer hereby agrees to pay) ten (10) times the normal license fee for any unauthorized use, in addition to any other fees, damages, or penalties [the plaintiff] may be entitled to under this agreement or applicable law."

The plaintiff filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court, citing 294 instances of alleged infringement by the defendant. In each case, the plaintiff allegedly exceeded the limitations imposed by the licensing agreements. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that the defendant used photos

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