Under the Israel Copyright Law 2007 there are statutory awards available for copyright infringement of up to 100,000 Shekels without proof of damage. There is a separate statutory award for damage to the moral right to be acknowledged as an author of a creative work that is up to an additional 100,000 Shekels .
Photographs are considered creative works and it is the photographer, not the subject of the photographer that owns the rights.
However, the would-be-plaintiff should be aware that although the courts can award up to 200,000 Shekels for copyright infringement by a photograph being reproduced without permission, they generally make much smaller awards.
Whether one sues under copyright infringement or under the Law of Unjust Enrichment the statutory damage despite lack-of-proof merely enables the court to grant compensation for estimated damages where the plaintiff has trouble proving the damage. Not every photograph is considered as automatically worth tens of thousands of shekels.
Here are four recent cases:
- A website for an aluminium factory used an image taken from a competitor’s website without permission. The damages awarded were 3,500 Shekels.
- A photographer took pictures of landscaped gardens, and the landscape architect reproduced these without permission. The name of the photographer was not mentioned. The compensation awarded for copyright and moral rights infringement was 10,000 Shekels.
- A beautician and her husband sold cosmetics via eBay from a virtual shop. The cosmetics were made by Holyland Cosmetics. The beautician and her husband used photographs and text taken from Holyland Cosmetics’ website and were fined 65,000 Shekels.
- Very few photographs become iconic images. One that did was the famous picture of then Israel Defense Minister Amir Peretz looking interestedly at military maneuvers through binoculars without noticing that the lens caps were still in place. A journalist called Ephraim Shrir took the photo, and has since been busy suing every newspaper and media outlet that failed to acknowledge his moral rights to be recognized as the photographer, and that failed to pay him copyright compensation. We have written about his claims in the past, see here and here, where both his copyright and moral rights were recognized by the courts. In a recent ruling however, Shrir sued HaAretz for reproducing the photograph, but they claimed that they had obtained the image legally from Associated Press (AP) who was acknowledged. The case was thrown out.