EFJ Hails Victory for Authors’ Rights following Court’s Ruling in Morel Case against AFP


The European Federation of Journalists

(EFJ) today welcomed the decision by the US court to reject Agence

France-Presse's (AFP) license claim over iconic photographs of the Haiti

earthquake in 2009 taken by the Haitian photographer Daniel Morel.


The EFJ says the Morel case is a

victory for authors’ rights. “This is an encouraging sign in the battle to

defend authors’ rights,” said Arne König, EFJ President. “Hopefully, the Morel case will set the legal precedence to prevent the unauthorised use of creators’

works in future.”


The legal dispute between Morel and

AFP began on 13 January 2009 when Morel uploaded his photographs of the

Haiti earthquake on the social networking website, Twitpic. The AFP published

Morel’s photographs without obtaining his permission and wrongly credited Mr.

Lisandro Suero, who had re-posted Morel’s pictures, as the author.


When confronted later by Morel, the

AFP argued that Morel granted third parties (including AFP) a broad license to

use his photographs posted on Twitpic. However, the US district court in New

York rejected the AFP’s arguments in its recent rulingon 23



“The unfair terms and conditions for

the use of content existing in social media websites pose a growing threat to

protect authors’ rights online,” said König. “Journalists should remain

cautious and wary of unfair terms and conditions when posting their works on

social networking sites.”


“The violation of Morel’s authors’

rights is also due to the failure of the media, which failed to follow standard

journalistic practices to verify the authorship and authenticity of the

photographs before the publication,” said EFJ, “Users of the social media

content should not further abuse these unfair terms but to respect the authors’

rights of creators.”


Leaders of journalists’ unions in Europe

denounced AFP in the Morel case on 11 December in a seminar on Authors’ Rights in the Digital

Age: A Fair Deal for Journalists held by the EFJ in Thessaloniki

and called for more authors’ rights protection in the digital age.


The EFJ is

currently developing an authors’ rights handbook for journalists and new

strategies to address the latest problems and violations of journalists’ authors’

rights in the digital age.

For more information contact the EFJ at   +32 2 235 2200 


The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 European countries