The Beatles crossing Abbey Road. A nurse and sailor kissing in Times Square as the end of World War II is announced. An African vulture patiently waiting for a starving toddler to die. The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute. Jack Ruby shooting Lee Oswald. Rose and Jack on the bow of the Titanic (or, for movie fans of a different era, maybe Marilyn Monroe’s white dress billowing as she stands over a subway grate).
Iconic photographs capture an image and immortalize it. Once seen, forever remembered. Pictures worth a thousand words. Other poignant clichés. The point is, a photograph can take everything a historical moment symbolizes and preserve it for eternity — or at least until you accidentally throw out the pictures while moving, or maybe leave them unattended in your storage locker until you die. (And if you haven’t seen the above photographs — other than the storage locker ones — stop reading this blog and look at them now or risk forever being a cultural ignoramus.)
Now think of a photograph of a little girl wearing a pink coat sitting on her father’s shoulders outside a church clutching a palm leaf. Unless you spend a lot of time studying FBI manhunt posters, this photograph does not immediately spring to mind. But it has one trait that the above photographs do not: it was the subject of a recent lawsuit by its photographer against Sony Pictures, which used a photograph featuring a little girl wearing a pink coat sitting atop Eric McCormack’s shoulders in a television movie. So, are these two photos “substantially similar,” such that the image on the right infringes the copyright in the image on the left?
According to Sony Pictures — and, now, the Boston-based federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit — the answer is no. Continue reading the full story . . . »