In a decision this afternoon, the jury on the Daniel Morel vs. Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Getty Images trial awarded the defendant, Daniel Morel, the maximum statutory damages entitled by the law–in the amount of $1.2 million—finding that the corporations acted willfully in violating the copyright act and that they were not innocent in their actions.
In addition, Getty and AFP were also found to have violated a total of 16 counts (based on the eight images in question) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for the amount of $400,000, according to Joseph Baio, Morel’s attorney.
Baio says, “[Morel] is delighted that the jury found that they [Getty/AFP] were willful and learned what they did to him.”
And the defense? “There was stone silence from the defense. [They were] dumbfounded—looked like a bomb went off!”
He said the jury decided to multiply the award amount recommended by AFP and Getty (based on a day rate of $275) by 1,000—the most allowed by the law.
This landmark verdict comes four years after Morel’s images of the 2010 Haiti earthquake were distributed without his permission by the two stock agencies and attributed to Lisandro Suero, who stole his images from his Twitpic account.
AFP and Getty were initially found guilty of copyright infringement after a January trial presided over by Judge Alison Nathan. She also ruled that Morel did not forfeit his copyright when he published his images to Twitter.