Morel to pursue legal case as AFP tries to settle

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One month after Judge Pauley of the Southern District Court of New York heard the first arguments in the Agence France Presse v. Morel case, BJP has learnt that Morel has entered into “a confidential settlement agreement with ABC,” last Friday, Morel’s legal representative, Barbara Hoffman has confirmed.

However, according to AFP, which contacted BJP through its lawyer, Morel has refused to settle with the news agency and its co-defendants – Getty Images, CNN and CBS.


The case, launched earlier this year by Agence France Presse, with Getty Images, the ABC and CBS television networks and CNN as co-defendants against the photographer, accused Morel of engaging in “an antagonistic assertion of rights,” after he objected to the use by AFP of images he posted online on the TwitPic and Twitter services.

The images were of the 12 January earthquake, which hit Haiti and killed more than 230,000 people. When the disaster hit, Morel was in Port-au-Prince. According to a counter-claim he filled against Agence France Presse, Morel spent most of that day photographying. And with the help of a friend, he created a Twitter account with the username “PhotoMorel” were he posted, through the TwitPic service, 13 images he had taken that day.

Morel accuses AFP of distributing and selling his images without prior permission.

Last month, in Judge Pauley’s court, Agence France Presse and its co-defendants asked for the court to dismiss Morel’s claims against them. BJP understands that the judge has yet to rule on these demands. “We are waiting for the Judge’s decision on AFP, Getty, CNN and CBS’s motion to dismiss,” says Hoffman.

Morel’s settlement with ABC isn’t surprising. In the 24 September proceedings, ABC’s lawyer – Robert Penchina – declared in court that ABC thought “that this case might be something that would be appropriate for mediation and would wonder if the court would entertain ordering that we participate in mediation through the magistrate?”

According to AFP’s representative, who contacted British Journal of Photography, the French news agency, as well as Getty Images, CNN and CBS joined ABC in its demand for a mediation. “We (AFP, CNN, Getty & CBS) all would like to settle the case and hope to continue settlement negotiation even though Ms. Hoffman has notified the judge that they want to proceed with litigating the case,” says Joshua J. Kaufman, who represents AFP and CNN in the case.