Updated: Colorado photographer sues Apple over ‘iconic’ photo

San Francisco (CA) – A widely published Colorado photographer has filed a copyright infringement suit against Apple.

Louis Psihoyos – who created the ubiquitous “500 monitors” (aka “1000 TVs”) image in 2005 – alleges that Club Cupertino used the picture without permission in its i.TV movie guide application for the iPhone.

Psihoyos told TG Daily that image was an “iconic one” that major corporations have stolen repeatedly.

“It is hard for me to imagine why someone would want to use the picture without permission, but this is the Internet era. The picture is out there in the ether, so perhaps people think they can just take it,” said Psihoyos. “But it took me a month to create that picture at a cost of 100K. People can pay to license it, just as I prefer to buy music legally on iTunes. Apple can do the same thing.

“You know, there are laws in place to protect copyright holders and for them to do this is unconscionable. I mean, I spent several hundred thouands dollars on Apple gear. Steve Jobs can show me the same courtesy.”

It should be noted that Psihoyos had previously sued Apple for unauthorized use of the same photo. Indeed, a 2007 complaint filed in Colorado claimed that Apple had tossed aside the “rights and feelings” of the plaintiff for displaying the image without concluding a licensing agreement.

Dan Nelson, attorney representing Louis Psihoyos adds:

The Nelson Law Firm, PC filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on August 19, 2009.  The suit alleges that Apple is liable for copyright infringement for the use of Mr. Psihoyos’  famous “1000 TVs” image in an iPhone application without Psihoyos’ permission.  The application, i.TV was formerly one of Apple’s most popular iPhone applications.

According to Dan Nelson, a copyright attorney in the Nelson Law Firm, PC’s New York office, “Apple failed to take steps to ensure that third-party application developers weren’t infringing copyrights.  Apple was aware that i.TV was making questionable uses of Mr. Psihoyos’ famous and iconic photograph, and didn’t prevent the developer from placing the photograph in the infringing application.”

Apple has bolstered its market share through the creation of iPhone applications, but hasn’t required third party developers to maintain insurance or to be solvent.  Psihoyos seeks to establish that Apple had control over i.TV and should have exercised that control to stop the misappropriation of his photograph. According to Psihoyos, “This is one of my most famous photographs. It’s shocking to me that Apple would allow it to be displayed in an iPhone application without my permission and then blame their partner in the application.”