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Zooming in on the Boom in Photography Litigation

  • April 14, 2021
  • 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Virtual [Zoom]


The past decade has been tough for photographers. Many have seen their incomes plummet, as the easy availability of a “right-click license” replaced an untold number of real, paid licenses. This boom in infringement has inevitably led to a boom in demand letters and actual lawsuits by photographers seeking redress for unauthorized uses of their works online, largely filed in the Southern District of New York by small firms that range from “aggressive” to “ethically challenged.”

For April’s event we are excited to be joined by two New York-based litigators who have been in the center of some of the most high-profile copyright battles over photographs in recent years: Nancy Wolff of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, who has represented many prominent photographers as well as photo-licensing agencies including Getty Images, and Lance Koonce of Davis Wright Tremaine, who has defended media companies accused of infringing photographers’ copyrights.

Nancy and Lance will address several of the hot topics raised by the recent proliferation of photography litigation, including:

  • The business practices and technological developments that have led to the proliferation of copyright suits by photographers
  • The novel copyright and contract issues raised by the practice by some of embedding or framing photographs that were originally posted to social-media sites such as Twitter and Instagram, including the viability of the “server test”
  • When does an unlicensed use of a photograph constitute a fair use?  Can the subject of a photograph really be sued for posting an image of herself?
  • The litigation tactics of certain attorneys representing photographers, and possible responses. Or, what’s the difference between photographers’ legitimate enforcement of their rights, and "copyright trolling”?
  • The newly-passed CASE Act and whether this new forum that does not require lawyers will change the landscape

The panel discussion will be moderated by AJ Thomas of Jenner & Block, who is an experienced media and entertainment litigator focusing on copyright and trademark matters, First Amendment cases, and complex business litigation.

Nancy E. Wolff Lance Koonce

Andrew J. Thomas

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