Two Greek photo-journalists filed a legal complaint against international news agency Associated Press (AP) claiming “infringement of intellectual property rights law.” According to Nicholas Giakoumidis and Dimitris Messinis, “thousands of their photos with a market value totaling hundreds of thousands of euros have been used for commercial purposes without their prior permission as required by Greek copyright law 2121/1993.”
Giakoumidis and Messinis have reportedly discovered that the news agency had exceeded its right to use the pictures shot by the two photo-reporters for editorial use only and had posted on internet over 3,000 pictures for sale.
According to the legal complaint, “the AP had put the photographic archive of Dimitris Messinis and Nicholas Giakoumidis up for sale on the commercial website Replayphotos.com thus making the commercial use of their high resolution (fine print) photos available to individual internet users worldwide.”
“Over 3,000 of the two photographers’ photos were posted on the Internet for commercial use, allowing buyers to illegally alter the originals without the required permission of the authors, and the AP to profit illegally,” Giakoumidis and Messinis note.
Messinis worked with full time contract 1997- July 2014 for the AP and Giakoumidis as “fixed stringer” 1999- September 2014. According to both photo-journalists the “illegal use of their pictures” occurred between 2011 and 2014.
When Dimitris Messinis raised the issue with AP in November 2014, the agency refused to confirm the commercial sale of photos, but then it proceeded to delete Messini’s photos from its website “AP photo store” and in the following days also the pictures shot by Giakoumidis as well as by other AP photographers.
In addition, Giakoumidis found out that his photos were listed for sale also on other commercial websites around the world.
Following the refusal of the AP agency to settle the matter out of court, both photographers filed a complaint against the AP’s legal representative in Greece. They also plan to take the case to higher level and file a lawsuit in the Greek civil courts in the near future.
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