Another Case Filed Against Beleaguered Photographer Annie Leibovitz - This Time Over Copyright

Photographer Annie Leibovitz has been hit again with another lawsuit. Only this time it's not financial, it's over copyright issues. Italian photographer Paolo Pizzetti is accusing her of using his images without permission. The disputed pics are possibly seen as background images for an ad campaign Leibovitz produced for LavAzzo Coffee and credited herself as sole photographer.

© Annie Leibovitz for LavAzza

The images in dispute are location scouting photos Pizzetti took in 2008 for Leibovitz in advance of her expected arrival. According to the documents filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, Pizzetti's company StudioNAP billed Leibovitz Studio $1,338.84 for his time, including hotels and expenses. Ultimately Leibovitz decided against going to Italy, opting to shoot in New York instead.

Paola Pizzetti's scouting photograph of the Plaza San Marco, Venice

Paola Pizzetti's scouting photograph of the Trevi Fountain, Rome

Two of the backgrounds in the completed calendar appear to be pics Pizzetti sent back digitally to Leibovitz's assistant in the studio during his trip. Citing cloud formations, weather, and a unique placement of a bird as proof of his allegations, Pizzetti states he did not know his pics were going to be used and he did not release them for publication. Pizzetti is seeking a court order to stop the images from being used and $300,000 (£183,000) for copyright infringement.

© Annie Leibovitz for LavAzza

Leibovitz has been battered from all sides lately. Her debts are piling with other pending suits sought against her by creditors and Art Capitol Group, an art financing company who loaned Leibovitz Studio $24 million (£14.6m), using her entire catalog and homes as collateral, a loan that is now due as of Sept. 8. Filing for bankruptcy may be the last option available to Leibovitz, an option that is not beneficial to either the creditors nor to Leibovitz.

For more go to the New York Times article by Allen Salkin, dated Sept 9, 2009:

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Filed under: Photo News September 10, 2009
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