There it is. We all have seen it countless times. We all know it. We all love it. There is a chance...miniscule...yet still a chance, that we may never see it again.
Photographer Jacobus Rentmeester recently filed suit against Nike, citing copyright infringement. He claims Nike stole the image from him, based off of this image that he shot for Life Magazine:
I say it goes nowhere...here's why:
First off, Rentmeester shot the image in 1984, thirty years ago. He entered into an agreement with Nike to allow the logo to be used, where Nike agreed to pay him a certain amount of money over two years. For practical reasons one must ask the question...why now? Why thirty years later? While he does retain copyright, he entered into a contract to allow the company to continue usage of the logo, so what gives?
Secondly, when it comes to the issue of copyright infringement, this will turn into a very difficult case for him to prove. For example, years ago there was a copyright case concerning a photographer and artist. The original, the photograph, was a well known photograph of a scene in Louisiana. The second, the Judge ruled, was the same scene, with a few very minute differences. The painting(second one) had puddles on the ground, and used leaves to frame the image in a slightly different way. The photographer, who filed suit, lost, because of the fact that the judge ruled that while the images were similar, those few very distinct differences were enough to not constitute a copyright infringement.
I'm pretty sure Nike will end up giving him some "go away" money, however, we, as photographers, must do all we can to protect ourselves. In my opinion, which, of course, is only my humble opinion, the burden of responsibility, which in this case, was on the photographer, was not handled in an appropriate manner. He should consider himself fortunate if Nike settles out of court.