At the beginning of this year a US district judge ruled that several news organizations were liable for infringing on the copyrights of photographer Daniel Morel, after they used images posted on Twitter without permission — now they've been ordered to pay. Both the Agence France-Presse and Getty Images will have to pay Morel a total of $1.2 million for their part in the situation.
"I hope that never happens again to any of us."
It all began when an AFP editor found several photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake on Twitter, which were originally taken by Morel, and then distributed them to Getty. From there Morel's pictures spread widely, with multiple news organizations that subscribe to Getty's image services utilizing them as well. Many of those publications, including The Washington Post, have since settled with Morel for undisclosed amounts.
The AFP had previously argued that the photos were open to commercial reuse, but Judge Alison J. Nathan disagreed, as did Twitter itself. "As has always been our policy," the company told The Verge in January, "Twitter users own their photos." The ruling and damages should help set a precedent for how images and other media from social networks can be used by the press, something Morel seems optimistic of. "I feel good," he told the AFP. "I hope that never happens again to any of us. This is a victory for all artists, for all copyright holders."