Miami Heat owner sues blogger over photo

Miami Heat stakeholder Ranaan Katz is suing a blogger over an "unflattering" photo published online, reports Tim Elfrink in The Miami New Times. In the lawsuit, Katz claims copyright violation; coincidentally, the blogger—who has not removed the photo at his site—is a noted critic of Katz. Katz's lawyer, Todd Levine, even threatened the New Times in a Streisand-tastic effort to prevent it running a story about his lawsuit. [New Times via GigaOm]


      1. Seeing how Hollywood has become America’s Court Jesters, redirected into keeping the peasants distracted and mollified instead of the royalty, that would be perversely appropriate to grant them special rights.

        Hollyweird is working for Washington, or does everyone really want to watch endless Hollywood “news” shows and procedural crime dramas or reality shows?
        What would Edward R. Murrow think of scripted reality shows like the Kardashians or Jersey Shore or Faux News? If he complained today, they might tow his car and lock up his possessions in a unpaid storage locker, where the high bidder sells his stuff at his pawn shop.
        (Hey! A new show! Zombie Towing/Pawn/Locker Wars/Stars!)

    1.  well, to be fair, it has a kernel of truth to it. i don’t know what the law says on this in the US, but in some countries (e.g. France, i think), you actually do own the right to your own likeness (at least for commercial use). one of my favorite books consists of portraits taken in secret on the french subway. it opens with a preface saying all the photos are technically illegal. still highly recommended:

      1. In the US if you’re in a public space you do not have any control over people taking a photo of you or what they do with it.

        There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when one is in a venue like this.

      2. Commercial use is very different, waivers are needed and use can be restricted in whatever way is required. This is the case in most countries. Simply posting a pic to a blog though? That’s always fine.

        1. Unless maybe he is receiving ad revenue from the blog, and used the picture and a sensationalist article to drum up more visitors?

          I’m not really sure how that would work.

    2. Well copyrights do cover artistic expression.  And that’s quite an expression he’s got there.

      1.  Didn’t his mother warn him his face would get fixed in a tangible form if he kept doing that?

  1. So when will public people learn of the Streisand effect once and for all? Somehow, I can see Jamal Kardashian on the dawn of the Apocalypse (I always imagine the Apocalypse starting at dawn), shouting at the only living photographer: “You can’t take my photo, I’m negotiating an exclusive with FOX Music!”

  2. Unfortunately, the Streisand effect will ultimately prove self-limiting. You can only say “Christ, what an asshole” so many times a day. Each new cycle of righteous outrage will run shorter and shorter, until the collective Internet – with its famously short attention span – stops paying attention. There will be a few magnificent exceptions – the “set the controls for the heart of the Sun” antics of people like Charles Carreon will always get a bit more attention – but in general, the fear of being seen as the clueless douchebag that you are will come to be less and less of a deterrent.

    And in the background, the strategic lawsuits will grind on their merry way …

    1. Even if the cycle runs shorter and shorter to the point of having ocillations in multiple terahertz, this situation will always be new to someone, both from the standpoint of self-perceived victim and observer. We’ll never run out of thin skinned self important people or those who gape at trainwrecks. It will be kind of  like that “1 in 10,000” thing in the XKCD comic.

  3. Srsly, I don’t understand where the law stands on this. On the one hand, I would think anyone appearing in public is giving up the right to keep their face private. (Maybe Michael Jackson had the right idea wearing masks and scarves? Except he seemed more motivated by the fact that his face was caving in.) On the other hand, you can’t draw a picture of Jimi Hendrix on a guitar strap and sell it because his step-sister who he met and talked to for a handful of hours in his life owns the copyright on his “likeness.” I tried to read up on that subject and couldn’t figure it out.

    Does this guy think that all paparazzi photos have been granted approval by the subjects within the photos?

    1. “Maybe Michael Jackson had the right idea wearing masks and scarves? Except he seemed more motivated by the fact that his face was caving in.”

      He was more motivated by his skin condition, vitiligo, which causes a person to lose the brown pigment on their skin.  Naturally, this would also mean you would lose protection from the sun, and keeping covered when out is the most effective protection.

    2.  What you’re talking about are two different uses.  One is a photograph in a public place and thus, free to use.  If Bruce Springsteen shows up at a baseball game and they put his face on television or take a photo, it is simply news.

      Now, if they take that same photo and put it on a mug and use the phrase “Bruce loves the Yankees!” and sell it in the shop for twenty bucks, you’re implying something about The Boss AND trying to make a profit from it.  The first is a no-no, the second gets you into much deeper trouble.

      Selling the likeness of someone gets you into trouble very quickly because they are owned much more clearly than people at a public event are.  You can show a photo of Leonard Nemoy drinking a Coke at Urban Outfitters but the minute you draw Spock with a Coke you better put your lawyer on speed dial.

      TL;DR:  Good luck to this guy, I’m glad he found a lawyer willing to take his money.

      1. “One is a photograph in a public place and thus, free to use.” Free to use in non-commercial ways, or commercial ways as long as it’s not implying an endorsement of some other brand or product (as in both of your examples)? I would almost say calling a photo “news” makes sense, except news is still commercial in most cases, and there used to be a stronger arbitrary distinction between journalists who decided what counts as “news”, and citizens who could only wish they were journalists. … Which only meant the people with a lot of money are legit journalists, and everybody else is illegit. This is sort of a separate issue, but annoyingly persistent.

        My example of Jimi’s likeness drawn on a guitar strap doesn’t necessarily imply that Jimi endorsed the product. I didn’t specify whether it could be a photo of Jimi taken while he was in public, so let’s assume it was. And I realize that this example is further complicated by the fact that he’s dead, and someone else is claiming rights to his likeness. (From my understanding, the rights to likeness of people after death varies from state to state.)

        But let’s say someone takes a photo of this guy who owns the Heat, pastes it on a basketball and tries to sell it. Is it the commercial aspect that would (or should) be illegal, like all paparazzi photos, or some implied endorsement of the basketball?

        1. “Free to use on a news site.”  This includes blogging or even Facebook and the like.    You can even Perez Hilton it up, since you own the copyright on the image.

          In your case of the basketball, it’s the commercial aspect from the sale of the basketball that is going to cause more problems.  If you’re just toting your basketball around you’re cool.

          If you draw a photo of Jimi on your own guitar strap, you’re cool.  But, and this is key, it can’t look like any copyrighted photo of Jimi.  If Shepard Fairey had drawn that image of Obama a few years back without use of the photo from AP it would have been a moot point, but since it was proven to be derivative of a copyrighted work, trouble.  If Fairey had taken the original photo and made his drawing from that, there would have been no issues.

  4. Yeeesh.  The picture isn’t even that bad.  He’s not doing anything disgusting,  morally wrong, or unhealthy; its just  a bad moment to select out of time.

  5. It would be terrible if someone created a GIF where his tongue extends outward to reveal the words “Ranaan tempts the Streisand Effect” tattooed on his tongue. Just terrible.

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