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 ruling on 23 December. “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