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Copyright Blog

Tweet Image Case Settles

Columbia University and professional photographer have settled their dispute over Columbia's use of a photograph in a Tweet.

As we reported on September 23, 2019 and April 21, 2020, professional photographer Marco Verch ("Verch") filed suit against Columbia University ("Columbia") in September of 2019 for an allegedly unauthorized use of one of his photographs. According to Verch's Amended Complaint and the attached exhibits, the photograph, which depicts eyeglasses and a laptop (the "Photo"), was included in a tweet by the Columbia Alumni Association. The Complaint alleged that use of the Photo was not licensed and claimed that it infringed a registered copyright. As relief, the Complaint requested actual or statutory damages, including any profits and income resulting from the use, as well as costs and attorney's fees.

In turn, Columbia's Answer to the Complaint denied most of Verch's allegations or identified them as conclusions of law instead of fact. Columbia also asserted that it had obtained a license to use the Photo from Verch's licensing agent. In addition, the Answer included several affirmative defenses.

Following the filing of the Answer, the case was to have proceeded with discovery. However, it appears that the parties were able to come to an understanding. On July 7th, 2020, Verch filed a Notice of Settlement, and the next day, the court filed an Order of Dismissal and both parties stipulated to it.