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Big Win for Photographer in Copyright Case

By December 29, 2022No Comments

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Marketing, Communications & Blog Coordinator

Over the past few years, we’ve followed a lot of copyright cases in the courts. Some decisions have favored us in the creative community. Some have not. Some have been baffling, others not. But, the year ends with a big win and an award of $1.2 million for a photographer in California


Dennis Fugnetti took a photo of a pigeon in flight as a commission from a pest control company, which could use it in marketing bird-repelling products and services. That agreement  had a limited life-span and expired in 2003.

Unbeknownst to Fugnetti, the company continued to use the image and, ion 2017, contacted him to ask for more information about the photo so the company could apply for copyright.

Fugnetti offered to sell them a “limited-use license.” The company refused. Fugnetti filed suit in 2019. A jury trial found the company guilty and the judge ordered a fine of almost $1.2 million. The company will appeal. Unfortunately, Fugnetti died before the decision, but the award, if upheld will go to his estate and family.

You can read more about this case here and on the Law360 blog (subscription required). If copyright is your thing, you can find links to a number of NANPA blog articles on the topic clicking on the Copyright category on the main blog page.

NANPA’s advocacy

NANPA fights for the IP rights of nature photographers through its Advocacy Committee and in collaborations with organizations like the Copyright Alliance and Coalition of Visual Artists. Learn more about NANPA’s advocacy work here.

Frank Gallagher is a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He serves as NANPA’s Interim Marketing and Communications Coordinator and manages NANPA’s blog. He can be found online at or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.