Tiffany & Co. is in a bit of hot water over a photograph it is using in connection with one of its jewelry lines. Last Friday, New York-based photojournalist Peter Gould filed suit against the famous jewelry company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, citing copyright infringement.
Gould alleges the jewelry brand is on the hook for reproduction and public displaying his copyrighted photograph, without his authorization. The photograph at issue? One of Elsa Peretti, a longtime collaborator of Tiffany & Co. and the force behind the brand’s Elsa Peretti collection, of course. And the photo, itself, is pending U.S. Copyright registration.
According to Gould’s complaint, the Tiffany & Co. website “features the photograph to sell [the company’s] Elsa Peretti Jewelry.” The complaint further states that at all times Gould “has been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the photograph, including the copyright thereto.”
Gould continues on to claim that “Tiffany infringed [his] copyright in the photograph by reproducing and publicly displaying the photograph on the website.” He further argues that “Tiffany is not, and never has been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/ or use the photograph.”
In addition to claiming copyright infringement, Gould is also accusing Tiffany & Co. of removing copyright management information on the photograph that could identify Gould as the photographer, a federal offense in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Gould claims “the falsification, alteration and/ or removal of said copyright management information was made by Tiffany intentionally [and] knowingly.” The complaint further reasons that Tiffany & Co. knew, or should have known that such “falsification, alteration and/or removal of said copyright management information would induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal their infringement of [Gould’s] copyright in the photograph.”
The photojournalist is seeking relief from the court by way of damages and “[Tiffany’s] profits” for the infringement, as well as recovery from Tiffany’s for “the damages, that he sustained and will sustain, and any gains, profits and advantages obtained by Tiffany” due to the removal of the identifying copyright management information. Gould alternatively is claiming the right to recover in statutory damages that could amount in a “sum of at least $2,500 up to $25,000 for each violation.”