Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Courtroom Sketch Artists Sue AP & ESPN

MANHATTAN (CN) - A mother-daughter team of courtroom sketch artists claim The Associated Press, ESPN and other media outlets didn't pay them for their work but broadcast and republished their sketches anyway. Shirley Shepard and her daughter, Andrea, say they refused to sign "deal memos" with the defendants in some high-profile cases, but the media used their work anyway, without paying them.

The Shepards say they have worked as courtroom sketch artists for more than 20 years. In August 2007, they say, they produced sketches for ESPN in the criminal case against former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who eventually was sentenced to prison for betting on games he called.

The Shepards say they refused to sign the "deal memo" with ESPN because they did not agree to certain language in the memo. But they say that "ESPN used sketches without oral or written consent on numerous occasions from several cases, including, but not limited to, U.S. v. Tom (sic) Donaghy, U.S. v. Marrion (sic) Jones and People v. Plaxico Burress," according to the complaint.

The Shepards say they never received compensation from ESPN for its use of those sketches.

The Shepards say co-defendant Kurtis Productions also used their work without permission, including sketches for the cases against former Tyco CEO Dennis Koslowski and WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers.

The Shepards say Kurtis Productions used their sketches on a CNBC program called "American Greed."

The Shepards say that though did not have a contract with The Associated Press, they had an understanding of compensation. They claim that the AP used their sketches online and in film, books, and other media without permission, and that the news agency contracted with co-defendants Photobucket.com, Pictopia.com and Philly Online to reproduce the sketches without the artists' consent.

Pictopia advertised their sketches for sale to the public, without permission to do so, the Shepards say.

The Shepards seek an injunction and statutory and punitive damages, alleging copyright infringement, breach of contract and fraudulent inducement.

They are represented by Charles DeStefano of Staten Island.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.