WASHINGTON (CN) – A photojournalist sued Breitbart News Network Tuesday, accusing the far-right media company of repeatedly using a photograph he took at a Berkeley student protest in 2015 without his permission.
The image, taken by Michigan-based freelance reporter and photographer Terray Sylvester, shows a small group of African-American students on a ledge in front of the iconic Sather Tower on the Berkeley campus. One of them is shouting into a bullhorn and another is holding a Black Lives Matter sign.
Sylvester, who has worked for Reuters and the San Francisco Chronicle among others, says that conservative outlet Breitbart starting using the copyrighted image on December 5, 2015, one month after he posted it on his social media accounts.
Sylvester claims in the September 5 complaint that Breitbart used the picture for various topics, ranging from racism, social justice, education and black student demands, according to the 20 infringing URL’s he included in the complaint.
“In doing so, Defendant violated Plaintiff’s exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution,” the 16-page complaint states. “Defendant’s actions constitute infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright and exclusive rights under copyright.”
Breitbart, according to the lawsuit, made Sylvester’s picture available to third party publishers and distributors by posting large, active links to its social media sites directly above its use of his photo.
Sylvester claims Breitbart willfully and intentionally disregarded his exclusive rights to the picture under copyright.
The late Andrew Breitbart founded the outlet in 2007. Its current CEO Steve Bannon recently rejoined the conservative website after departing the White House, having served as President Trump’s chief strategist and campaign manager.
Sylvester’s attorney David Deal did not respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit. Breitbart could not be reached for comment.