Freelance Photographer Sues Breitbart News For Allegedly Stealing A Picture
A freelance photographer has slapped Breitbart News with a lawsuit for stealing a picture he posted on social media, thereby violating copyright infringement laws. The suit says the amount will be determined at trial. The Pacific Northwest plaintiff, Terray Sylvester, has requested a jury trial. The lawsuit is dated September 5, 2017.
One thing Breitbart News had better be forewarned about is this:
The plaintiff’s attorney, David C. Deal, in Crozet, Va. is a complete asshole.
Here’s how our conversation went.
ME: Hi, I’m Betsy Rothstein, a reporter for The Daily Caller and I have a few questions about a lawsuit your client filed against Breitbart News.
HIM: Well, that was fast. We filed about 30 minutes ago.
ME: Oh, good. Awesome. I have a few questions for you.
HIM: I trust you read the lawsuit.
ME: I did. But I have a few questions, a few things that weren’t so clear. For one thing, what is the amount of this lawsuit? I know the filing says it’s to be determined in court, but what are we talking about here? Also…did your client ask Breitbart News to take the photographs down before filing a suit against the site?
HIM: I have no doubt that you are who you say you are. I represent my client’s legal interests. Before I do anything, he has to be aware what I am doing on his behalf. In my experience it really doesn’t do my client any good to talk to reporters. If you’ve read the complaint those are the facts we are alleging. I’m not sure I can add too much. If I were able to add more, again, I function, my job is to aid my client’s best legal interest. Typically that doesn’t include talking to reporters. I trust that you understand that.
ME: So do you want to call him and call me back?
HIM: You can call me. I may talk to him before you call back. I’m not going to call my client for your benefit.
ME: Huh. How come?
HIM: Why is The Daily Caller interested in this story?
ME: I’m a media reporter. I cover all stories pertaining to the media.
HIM: How old are you?
ME: I don’t know what that has to do with anything.
And then all hell broke loose.
HIM: If you’re going to talk over me…you called me.
ME: Huh? I’m not talking over you. I just asked you a few questions.
HIM: [Phone call drops]
ME: [I call him back, assuming he didn’t really just hang up on me.]
HIM: If you’re going to get anywhere in this conversation, you are going to stop talking.
ME: What? What are you talking about? I asked you a few questions.
HIM: You should bone up on your social skills.
ME: What? I was just asking you a question.
HIM: Fuck off.
ME: You fuck off.
HIM: [Phone call drops]
Just to be sure I wasn’t off on this, I asked my coworkers if they thought that I had been initially polite. They all agreed wholeheartedly that I had been up right up until the point where Deal told me I’d be better off if I stopped speaking.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, Sylvester, the photographer, is based in Hood, Oregon.
The complaint has been filed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Mirror requested a comment from Breitbart News publicist Chad Wilkinson, who said he would look into the matter.
The plaintiff is a “reporter and freelance photojournalist with nine (9) years experience.” The plaintiff’s clients, according to the filing, include Reuters, The San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker Online, Outside Online, and Orion Magazine. The plaintiff “specializes” in stories pertaining to “stories at the intersection of “environmental and social justice issues.”
Sylvester is seeking damages “copyright infringement” for photographs taken while covering a student protest in Berkeley, Calif. The plaintiff posted the pictures on his Twitter feed and Instagram account in November, 2016. According to the suit, Breitbart used the pictures on December 5, 2016. The plaintiff counted 20 times of use.
Sylvester reportedly copyrighted the photographs with the U.S. Copyright Office. It’s unclear if he did this before or after Breitbart News used the images.
In the suit, Sylvester says he believes Breitbart‘s actions were “willful” and “intentional” and “purposeful” with “disregard of” and “indifference to the rights of” the plaintiff. The plaintiff says Breitbart did not have permission to use the image.
The filing includes the pictures that were allegedly used without the freelance journalist’s permission. The Mirror is obviously not going to run them.
See the entire filing here.