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8/21/2009
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Apple Hit With $2 Million iPhone Suit

Photographer claims image on i.TV mobile app violates his copyright.

A photographer claims Apple stole one of his images to help promote a mobile app that allows users to search for television programs and other entertainment content on their iPhones.

Louis Psihoyos alleges that i.TV iPhone app's promotional materials use an image purloined from his portfolio. The image, called "1000 TV's", shows an individual seated amid banks of glowing television screens.

"Version 1.0 of i.TV directly infringed on Mr. Psihoyos' copyright by incorporating the 1000 TVs image without permission," attorneys for the photographer claim in court papers filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The attorneys contend that "by commercially exploiting the plaintiff's copyrighted image in the i.TV application" without Psihoyos' consent, Apple has enjoyed "significant economic gains" while damaging the photographer's interests.

The suit claims the damages amount to more than $2 million. Apple has yet to file a formal response to the case.

It's not the first time Psihoyos and Apple have clashed over the image. The lensman sued Steve Jobs and company in 2007, claiming Apple was using "1000 TV's" in ad to promote the iPhone and Apple TV on-demand video service.

To support original his case, Psihoyos filed a brief from a University of Denver law professor that backed his claim. "The similarities between the protectable elements of Psihoyos' photograph and the images used in Apple's ad campaign are striking," wrote professor Viva Moffat, who teaches copyright law at the university's Sturm College of Law.

Psihoyos dropped the first complaint in December of 2007, raising the possibility that an out-of-court settlement was reached.

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