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Private School Too Public With Photographs

Photographer Sues Private School for Unauthorized Use of Photos

In March 2024, professional photographer Mando Morlos ("Morlos") filed a Complaint alleging that St. Francis High School - Salesian College Preparatory ("St. Francis") committed copyright infringement and was in breach of contract over the use of hundreds of photographs he took for the school and its students.

Catholic Cupola
Photo by Namar via Pixabay

St. Francis, located in Watsonville, CA, contracted with Morlos to be the exclusive provider of photography service for the school from June 2018 to May 2021. Morlos specifically gave permission for the photographs to be used for print material and use on the school website. Morlos also provided large complimentary promotional posters for the school to advertise with. When the contract lapsed in May 2021 and the school contracted with another photographer, Morlos order the school to either remove all photographs and marketing materials under his copyright or pay a licensing fee to continue using them. Morlos and St. Francis entered into negotiations that eventually stalled, ending without any agreement between the parties.

In December 2022, Morlos sent a cease-and-desist letter to St. Francis requesting that they immediately stop all unauthorized use of Morlos' intellectual property. St. Francis responded to this by affirming that they had removed all photographs from the school website and disposed of all promotional materials. Morlos found that the school had indeed left hundreds of his photos on their website, and, beyond that, various school employees and administration had used his pictures in their social media accounts, which was never permitted in Morlos' contract. Morlos' prayer for relief consists of requesting either statutory damages or the attributable profit loss from the illegal use of his pictures, as well as an injunction against all of the school administration, faculty, and attorneys for participating in the infringement.

St. Francis has yet to respond to the Complaint, but we will post an update when further information is available.