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Arbitration Between Los Angeles Times and a Photographer Assists in Solving Copyright Dispute

Wednesday, December, 19, 2012


Last year, photographer David Strick sued the Los Angeles Times and its parent company, the Tribune Company, for over 500 acts of copyright infringement but was denied the opportunity to litigate due to an arbitration clause in the Los Angeles Times’ contract with him.  According to Strick’s accusations, the Times ended its contract with him on May 28, 2010, although several images he had taken for them were still unpublished and uploaded onto the company’s FTP (file transfer protocol) site. 

When the Times terminated their contract with him, his attorney, Karen Moskowitz, contacted the company and informed them that the photographer still owned copyright to the images that had been uploaded but remained as of yet unpublished.  In her contact with the Times, Moskowitz also informed the company that Mr. Strick would pursue claims for damages if the company published the images. 

However, the Times eventually published the images on their website, as well as on the websites of other websites owned by the Tribune Company.  Moskowitz sent a cease and desist letter that went unheeded, prompting Strick to file a copyright infringement claim with the Federal District Court in Los Angeles on May 11, 2011. 

The judge presiding over the court, Consuelo B. Marshall, determined that since Strick had signed a contractual agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the Los Angeles Times or its parent company, the photographer could not pursue the matter in a court case.  Strick then took the case to Peter D. Lichtman of an arbitration and mediation company called JAMS, who found that Strick had failed to follow the contractual arbitration agreement, which stated that he had to initiate arbitration within 90 days of filing his formal, written complaint with the Los Angeles Times.  Since Strick had attempted to litigate the case instead of follow the arbitration clause that he had signed in a contract, he was past the 90-day limit.