‘Donald the Pheasant’ Photog Sues Over Usage

     BROOKLYN (CN) — The photojournalist who took the “Donald the pheasant” picture last May that the media had a field day with because it “looks and acts like Donald Trump,” has filed a federal copyright lawsuit for wrongful use of his image.
     In a complaint filed Friday in Brooklyn Federal Court, Matthew McDermott takes on Cox Media Group, Cox Radio Inc., and Cox communications, stating that about 80 media outlets republished the photo without his permission.
     “The bird had a visual resemblance to presidential Republican nominee Donald Trump,” the lawsuit states, perhaps pinning the joke on the resemblance of head plumage. “The story was not only heavily covered by the press in New York but it was also covered nationally around the states.”
     The Queens-based photographer has covered Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Darfur’s genocide survivors, famine in Niger, detainees at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, the massive earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti, battles in Beirut, Belfast, Kosovo and several others.
     He also took photos of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the local effects on the fishing community after the massive BP oil spill.
     Then, in May, a neighbor called him to tell him that there was a golden pheasant, which is a native of China, in the backyard. He took a snap, and licensed the photo to the New York Post, which ran an article on its website.
     The photographer then registered the photo with the U.S. Copyright office.
     But the photo then went viral, and the media had a field day with it. McDermott’s lawsuit cites at least 80 links to where it was republished without his permission.
     The story ran in publications from Florida and Georgia to Ohio.
     The bird has since been taken to the Wild Bird Fund and will be released in Upstate New York, the photographer notes.
     McDermott now wants at least $2,500, but up to $25,000, for each instance where he says there’s a violation of his copyright.
     He is represented by Richard Liebowitz of Valley Stream, New York.

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