CBS Broadcasting has dropped its lawsuit against a New York photographer who posted a screenshot of a 1958 episode of the TV series ‘Gunsmoke’ on social media. The suit was filed after the man first sued CBS for copyright infringement, a case that will likely be settled soon.
Over the past year, dozens of independent photographers have taken mainstream media outlets to court, accusing the companies of using their work without permission.
While the photographers only have a tiny fraction of the legal budgets of their wealthy adversaries, they have managed to score several settlements.
This is no surprise, as the evidence in these cases is often undisputed. However, New York photographer Jon Tannen learned that going up against a media mogul is not without risk. When he sued CBS Broadcasting a few weeks ago, the company ‘retaliated’ in a highly unusual way.
Instead of resolving the matter behind closed doors, CBS came out guns blazing. The company filed a lawsuit against the photographer accusing him of posting a copyright-infringing screenshot of a TV show on social media – the 59-year-old show Gunsmoke.
While posting a half-century old screenshot of an episode is quite different from using a recent photograph in a commercial publication, CBS branded Tannen a hypocrite in the complaint.
Follow up filings revealed how things spiraled out of control. Both parties were not able to agree on a settlement. According to CBS, Tannen demanded more than 100 times the value of a license, which they refused to pay.