I just read an interesting side issue to the Apple v Samsung IP lawsuit about the iPhone/iPad. The case itself is interesting, but Nilay Patel raised an issue about Apple’s lawyers’ without permission use of two images from websites in their documentation for their claim.

So as I noted in my breakdown of Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung, it looks like Apple’s law firm made an embarrassing copyright mistake: they used photos of Samsung products taken by Myriam Joire and AndroidCommunity without permission. Hell, they even cropped AndroidCommunity’s watermark.
That’s more than just a minor faux pas; I’m pretty sure it’s actionable copyright infringement. Seriously! While everything that judges and courts produce is in the public domain, there’s no rule that says lawyers and law firms are immune from copyright law.

Nilay’s point is that this is not a minor infraction but “actionable copyright infringement. Seriously!” … Meh, I’m not so sure.

  • Where are the damages?
  • How would Myriam Joire and AndroidCommunity suffer commercial or emotional harm* from the unauthorised use of their IP (photos of devices at the centre of the lawsuit)?
  • That’s a looong way from Shepard Fairey’s Obama HOPE posters/T-shirts/mugs/badges/stickers…

Right on! I like it, Nilay Patel. (click)

Finally (and this is what really prompted this post) speaking of publishing our values, here’s Nilay Patel’s stated virtue:

I think I’m doing a pretty good job not yelling at everyone all the time.

– P

* If I understand him correctly, Nilay’s point is they don’t have to. From his blog‘s comments:

No, I’m pretty sure it’s copyright infringement, and most of the lawyers I’ve talked to agree with me. The real question is whether or not there are damages to be had, and how much — probably nothing, in this case. So it’s not a huge deal, just embarrassing.
It’s telling that you think it “probably falls under fair use” because it’s not a “commercial use.” That’s just not how fair use works in our system. It’s much more narrow, and it’s applied case-by-case, not broadly across categories like “non-commercial use.”

I’m sure Apple’s lawyers can find a way to live with the embarrassment, Nilay. It IS just ‘a minor faux pas’. They have much bigger fish to fry, huh?