Photographer Wrestles with National Geographic Over Anthology Re-use

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Photographer Wrestles with National Geographic Over Anthology Re-use

Fri Feb 29, 2008 @ 12:41PM PST

Posted by Matthew Heller

Nationalgeographic Bill Clinton nemesis Kenneth Starr showed a flair for the dramatic this week as he argued for National Geographic magazine in a copyright infringement case before an en banc panel of the 11th Circuit. "The entire publishing industry is awaiting the court's decision," Starr proclaimed during oral arguments.

The plaintiff in the case, freelance photographer Jeffrey Greenberg, contributed photos to National Geographic  between 1962 and 1990. In 1997, he sued the magazine after those images appeared in a  30-disc CD-ROM anthology of every one of its issues.

Judges in Florida federal court and on the 11th Circuit have been wrestling with the case ever since. In June, a three-judge appellate panel reversed a $400,000 jury award to Greenberg, finding that the anthology was privileged because it preserved the original context of the magazines. Greenberg claimed it was a completely new product for which he deserved additional compensation.

"I think a lot of publications want to republish material without compensating the authors," his attorney, Norman Davis, told the en banc panel.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the oral arguments featured a debate over such issues as, Was the anthology a revision, a collection or a compilation? And, how was it different from or the same as a microfilm reproduction of the magazine?

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