LAS VEGAS (CN) – An acclaimed underwater photographer who snapped a “Maddened Attack” photo from a shark cage says Universal Pictures had no right to use it twice in the new film “Steve Jobs.”
Carl Roessler has specialized in sharks during his 40 years experience as a diver and photographer, with extensive experience photographing sharks, particularly in the waters off southern Australia.
He claims Universal Pictures did not get his permission to use his copyrighted “Maddened Attack” photo in two scenes, to depict Jobs’ as “intense, visceral, vicious, ruthless, and predatory.”
“The ‘Maddened Attack’ photograph of a great white shark is central to the ‘Steve Jobs’ movie,” which “visually uses zoomorphism, attributing the shark’s characteristics to Jobs, to unsubtly inform the movie audience and comment on Jobs’ psyche,” Roessler says in the Oct. 29 lawsuit in Federal Court.
Ironically, Jobs did have the right to use the photo, 17 years ago.
The movie scenes are based on a May 6, 1998 presentation during which Jobs used the “Maddened Attack” to introduce Apple’s PowerBook G3 laptop computer, Roessler says. Apple had a one-year license to use “Maddened Attack” in its promotions.
The movie scene is a fictionalized illustration of Jobs’ obsessive and perfectionist nature, Roessler says, making the unlicensed use of the image an important element of the film, as mentioned in several published reviews.
“Maddened Attack” appears again in the next scene, which depicts an argument between Jobs and Apple co-founder Steven Wozniak. The shark image appears on a large screen behind the two men before one of Jobs’ presentations, Roessler says.
In this case, “Maddened Attack” is not used in a documentary role, but to show Jobs’ predatory nature in his relationship with Wozniak, according to the complaint.
Roessler recorded “Maddened Attack” from a shark cage in 1994, during a 10-day diving expedition near the Neptune Islands, about 50 miles southwest of Adelaide, Australia.
The great white shark in the image is a young male, about 14 feet long, showing a wide-open mouth with a menacing array of teeth. Roessler calls it “an iconic image, capturing the aggressive, vicious, predatory nature of the shark, mouth open and teeth ready to crush, kill and devour its victim.”
Roessler copyrighted the image in 1995 and renewed the copyright in 2012.
He seeks an accounting, an injunction and damages for copyright infringement, vicarious infringement and contributory infringement.
Named as defendants are Universal City Studios aka Universal Picture, Universal City Studios aka Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures Films, Legendary Pictures Funding, Legendary Pictures Productions, AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings, and Cinemark USA.
Roessler is represented by John Aldrich, who was not available for comment over the weekend. Nor were officials for Universal Studios.
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