LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Associated Press licenses Marilyn Monroe photographs that belong to a collector without crediting him, costing him at least $1 million is lost profits, the collector claims in Federal Court.
Keya Morgan sued The Associated Press, Perseus Books LLC, Perseus Running Press LLC, and Time Home Entertainment Inc. on May 4.
Morgan, of Los Angeles, says in his 9-page complaint that he is a “collector of historical manuscripts and photographs and currently holds one of the largest collections of Marilyn Monroe items in the world.”
Among the collection are four photographs and negatives of Monroe’s famous appearance at President John F. Kennedy’s birthday celebration on May 19, 1962, according to the complaint.
As the owner and copyright holder, Morgan says he often licenses the photos to various media agencies for a fee.
He claims the AP is knowingly infringing on his copyrights by licensing rights to the photos to “dozens of third parties” and telling them that the copyright owner is defendant Perseus Running Press.
The AP also licensed one of the photos to Time Home for a “special edition of Life magazine about Marilyn Monroe,” which was published in early 2014, the complaint adds.
Morgan says he contacted Time Home and told them he was the actual copyright holder. Though the company promised to fix the photo credit and pay him for the infringement, it never did, he says.
In fact, it used the photos again in a book entitled “Life: The Loves of Marilyn” and gave credit to Running Press and the AP despite knowing the photos belonged to Morgan, according to the complaint.
Morgan claims that the defendants’ licensing infringement has “substantially lowered the value not only of the photographs in print, but also the value of the original signed prints,” which he was once able to sell for between $5,000 and $10,000.
To make matters worse, Morgan says, a collector who was willing to pay “six figures” for the original photos backed out on the offer after finding out about the defendants’ infringement.
Representatives for the defendant companies did not return requests for comment by press time.
Morgan seeks at least $1 million in damages for copyright infringement and falsification of copyright management information.
He also wants all unauthorized replications of the photos collected and either given to him or destroyed, and an injunction preventing the defendants from using, copying or licensing any of the photographs from his collection.
Morgan is represented by Larry Zerner, who declined to comment.
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