Photographer William Anthony sued UNICEF in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that UNICEF infringed the copyright of a number of photos of celebrities that Anthony took for a UNICEF advertising campaign. According to the complaint, Anthony was retained by UNICEF (though its advertising agency) to photograph prominent celebrities for UNICEF's "Believe in Zero" campaign to reduce the world's child mortality rate to zero. The celebrities he photographed for the campaign included Lucy Liu, Mia Farrow, Alyssa Milano, Laurence Fishburne, Clay Aiken and others. Anthony alleges that he agreed to license the photos to the charity at a "grossly reduced rate" because the license was limited to use in a print campaign only, as well as because of the philanthropic mission of the campaign. He further alleges that many of the invoices he submitted to UNICEF's agency were conspicuously labeled "print-only campaign." Anthony subsequently registered a number of the photos with the U.S. copyright office. When Anthony later saw the photos being used as part of the campaign on billboards, buses, trains, and digital displays, he filed the suit alleging that UNICEF's use of the photos in these media exceeded the scope of the license.
TIP: Advertisers and agencies should ensure that all photo and other media asset licenses are broad enough to match up to the campaign in which they will be used, and should double-check to ensure that all uses of these assets are covered by the license.