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  • Writer's pictureOmar Holloway

Certain Public Photo-op reuse of self without permission a no-go; $51K federal ruling against Dipset Cam'ron no-show

Harlem NY Hip-Hop rap legend Cam'ron is ordered to pay $51,000 for copyright infringement over his use of a photograph of his own likeness... specifically of himself.

A federal judge has ordered Dipset entrepreneur Cam'ron to pay $51,000 to a photographer for the use of her photo — of the iconic image of the rapper dressed in a fuzzy pink coat and holding a matching flip phone — which he used in a series of merch without permission.


Photographer Djamilla Cochran sued the rapper and his Dipset Couture company last year for using her photo on the merch without authorization, thus committing copyright infringement.


Since Cam'ron, never so much as responded to the lawsuit, let alone offered up any defenses, Judge William Martini ruled easily in Cochran's favor.

In his ruling, Judge Martini ordered Cam'ron to pay $40,530 in "statutory damages," in addition to repaying the $10,691 that it cost Cochran to bring the lawsuit in the first place.

"The court finds that a statutory damages award of seven times the licensing fee is sufficient to compensate plaintiff for the infringement of her copyright and to deter future infringements by punishing the defendants," wrote Judge Martini.


The photographer's photo was captured about 2002-2003 at a New York fashion show (during "Fashion Week") and has become perhaps the most recognizable photo of Cam'ron.

The photo of Cam was also a highlight in GQ magazine's November 2016 write-up "Cam'ron Is Very Particular When It Comes to the Color Pink".


In Cochran's initial lawsuit filed in April in New Jersey federal court, she asserted that the rapper had used the photo image on t-shirts, jewelry, and a host of other merchandise sold under his Dipset Couture brand, including pillows, shower curtains, and a print on a birthday cake.

"Getty Images notified defendants of their infringing activities by mail and email on multiple occasions," wrote Cochran's lawyers. “Despite these notifications, defendants continued to sell merchandise and continued to display the photograph on website and accounts.”


Although Cam'ron's experience might sound like a strange one - copyrights to a photo are typically retained by the person who snapped it.

Thus, being featured in a photo doesn't necessarily grant - or immunize - the featured person (or 3rd parties) the absolute rights to use it, especially on commercial products.

Cam'ron is only the latest celebrity to face such a dilemma; with stars like Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus all having faced copyright infringement cases after using photos of themselves taken by someone else.


According to U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index:


"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. Section 107 calls for consideration of the following four factors in evaluating a question of fair use:


■ Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes... ■ Nature of the copyrighted work... ■ Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole... ■ Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work...


In addition to the above, other factors may also be considered by a court in weighing a fair use question, depending upon the circumstances. Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by case basis, and the outcome of any given case depends on a fact-specific inquiry. This means that there is no formula to ensure that a predetermined percentage or amount of a work—or specific number of words, lines, pages, copies—may be used without permission." >


 • SOURCE: Cam’ron Ordered to Pay $51,000 For Using Copyrighted Photo — Of Himself. Digital Music News >

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