NFL and Associated Press Want Photographers’ Antitrust Suit Tossed Forever
On Thursday, February 11, 2016, the NFL and The Associated Press asked a New York federal judge to dismiss a group of professional photographers’ second attempt at asserting copyright and antitrust violations over the use of their photos taken at NFL games. At the hearing, the league and the media body — along with their co-defendants in the case, including Getty Images and Replay Photos LLC — argued that the photographers had failed to allege any new facts or claims in their second amended complaint, instead simply rehashing their original allegations. The case was dismissed earlier in 2016, but without prejudice, which is why the photographers were able to file the complaint as amended.
The lawsuit spawns from seven plaintiff photographers claiming the NFL forced the imaging companies to provide stock photos without paying royalties. This, the plaintiffs allege, allowed the league to use the photographers’ photos commercially without paying them for the privilege to do so. The defendants had filed separate dismissal motions in October 2015.
The NFL and AP told the court that the allegations made by the cameramen are insufficient to support antitrust claims, arguing that at their core the claims fail because “there is nothing unlawful for the NFL to collect its game photos or for the NFL to license [them].” They also stated that to replead is not the same as to reargue issues and claims, but the latter was the true nature of what the plaintiffs were trying to do.
The photographers originally filed suit in 2013, but Judge Sweet, who is still presiding over the case, ordered dismissal in March 2015. At the close of oral arguments at this most recent hearing, Judge Sweet stated he would reserve judgment for a time period in the near future.