Well-known photography educators Tony and Chelsea Northrup have published a new video that details the saga of a stolen photograph, and the eventual $40,000 settlement they received as a result of going after the offending party.
The image, a portrait of Chelsea originally taken for a book cover, was used by an Australian company to promote a smartphone selfie case with built-in LEDs. According to the duo, they became aware of the unauthorized usage in 2016 after someone who recognized the image alerted them. Tony sent the company an email requesting information, he explains in the video, but instead received a letter from a lawyer hired by the company.
The lawyer’s letter claimed that a graphic designer hired by the company to design the product packaging had acquired the image “from a website” and used it as a stock image without the company’s knowledge. As the Northrups note, a high-resolution version of the image is the first result on Google when searching for “ring light portrait.”
The company, via the lawyer’s letter, had stated that it would recall all of the products with that packaging and cease use of material containing the image. However, Tony explains that the duo continued to receive images from followers showing the cases—complete with the pilfered portrait—being sold in Australian and New Zealand stores.
That ultimately set in motion a long legal tussle that involved hiring an Australian attorney willing to deal with an international copyright case. The duo explain everything that went into this process and the eventual $40,000 in settlement payments that resulted, with Tony estimating the company spent around $60k total when including fees.