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Copyright Blog

Adding Another College Photograph Case to the Collage

A Kansas-Based Community College is Accused of Using a Photo Without Permission

On October 13, 2022 photographer Eric Bowers ("Bowers") filed a lawsuit against Johnson County Community College (the "College") claiming that the College used his photograph of the "One Light" building in Kansas City (the "Work") without permission.

In the Complaint, Bowers argues that the Defendants “took Plaintiff’s copyrighted Work without a proper license in order to nationally advertise, market, and promote its business activities across the Kansas City, Missouri area.” The use of the Work on the College's graphic design department website was allegedly discovered in 2019.

Bowers further claims that the “Defendant, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law, intentionally removed or altered copyright management information for Plaintiff’s Work.” On page three, the Complaint shows a copy of the alleged original image which contains a copyright watermark on the bottom left corner. The Work found on the Plaintiff’s website today displays a similar mark. In the screenshot of the College's website found on page five of the Complaint, though, the watermark is not visible.

Lastly, Bower asserts that Johnson County did remove the image when notified; however there has been no “meaningful settlement” reached on compensation.

We expect Johnson County to respond to these accusations in the coming months unless an agreement between the parties is reached before then. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.