Fox Settles Over Iconic Photo
After two years spent fighting against Twentieth Century Fox, an iconic photo of the Mary Tyler Moore show was finally returned to the estate of renowned photographer John G. Zimmerman. Known for his work in sports and cultural magazines like Life, Time, and Sports Illustrated, Zimmerman took the photo in 1974 for the cover of Time. Nearly forty years later, his daughter, Linda Zimmerman, who runs his photo archive since his death in 2002, discovered the photo being used by Twentieth Century Fox for an online ad of the fifth season DVD of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. The photo was also being used on the back of the DVD set.
Zimmerman contacted Fox, who adamantly claimed to hold the copyright of the photo. The two year battle that followed involved a complex copyright infringement claim. The archive never knew the photo was missing until Ms. Zimmerman’s discovery in 2012. Because of this, the archive never registered the copyright, meaning they could not collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees. The original photo also remained in the hands of Fox.
Negotiations led to a settlement in late January 2014. Fox agreed to pay fees, return the photo and assist with DMCA takedown notices. Not surprisingly, they refused to admit any liability in exchange.