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Who will Sketch the Plaintiff? Courtroom Sketch Artist’s Resale Rights Violated

H. Jay Spiegel of H. Jay Spiegel & Associates, P.C. of Mt. Vernon, VA is representing Patricia (“Pat”) Lopez, a long-time freelance courtroom sketch artist in a suit against the Associated Press (AP) and stock photo agency Getty Images for reselling her work in violation of her copyright.

According to Spiegel, Lopez earns $300 to $500 for her sketches but retains the copyright. Allegedly the AP and Getty violated the copyright by reselling her work to the public, at prices up to $12,000 for a one-month license, according to the complaint.

Apparently AP and Getty are entitled to use of the sketches in any ongoing news coverage of the cases that Lopez has sketched, but that right does not extend to selling those images commercially.

The papers were initially filed in April 2011; last month Lopez’s council filed court papers indicating settlement discussions are ongoing. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction barring the companies from offering her sketches for resale.

Plaintiff profile: Lopez made sketches at the Oklahoma City bombing trial as well as trials of Willie Clark, and Maj. Nadal Malik Hasan. Her artwork has been such media outlets as NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Associated Press. Cameras are not allowed in U.S. federal courts, thus courtroom artists document historic courtroom moments for the public and the posterity. In 2008, Lopez donated her portfolio of Oklahoma City bombing trial sketches to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Sources: Forbes and ArtDaily.