“Heisman Pose” Photographer Sues Sports Illustrated, Getty Images, Desmond Howard and Others For Copyright Infringement

by David Berry on March 11, 2013

Masck v. Sports Illustrated, et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-10226-GAD-DRG (E.D. Mich., filed Jan. 18, 2013).

The Detroit Free Press points out that in January, Brian Masck, a local photographer who took the iconic photograph of Desmond Howard striking the “Heisman” pose following Howard’s 93-yard punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State in 1991, filed suit against a group of defendants in an action for copyright infringement for unauthorized duplication of the image. Among other things, Masck alleges that Getty Images added the photo to its archive, listing is as unattributed, without permission from Masck (see Getty Images photo, exhibit from Masck Complaint, below).


The complaint also alleges that Nissan used the photograph without permission in an ad campaign, and Howard used the photograph without permission in his book, I wore 21, and website.  The complaint includes claims for copyright infringement, unfair competition and trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, and unfair competition under Michigan state law. The case is assigned to District Judge Gershwin A. Drain.  Link to the Detroit Free Press story is HERE.

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