At issue is content in Meredith’s People magazine, the popular Daily Mail tabloid and on ABC’s “20/20” and “Nightline,” all of which have allegedly used a number of middle school and high school photographs of royal-to-be Markle, who’s given first name is Rachel, taken in the Nineties.
A California photographer, John Dlugolecki, told a California federal court on Friday that a number of photos he shot, including some of Markle, were printed in the yearbooks of Immaculate Heart, a Catholic school in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles that she attended. But the Seattle-based Yearbook Library is allegedly in the business of collecting yearbooks and “licensing” the rights of the photos in them, despite no permission from school or photographers to do so. Dlugolecki said he’s seeking official copyright for the photos, but that isn’t required for authors of a given work to have legal rights.
The Yearbook Library is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit and Dlugolecki characterized it as “a private business that is built on the unauthorized for-profit exploitation and infringement of countless photographs that are the copyright property of others and the knowingly false representations…to its [possibly unaware] customers, who in turn further unlawfully exploit and infringe those copyrights,” in his complaint.
“In fact, it is an essential component of its business that it effectively grants to itself the copyright to exploit for profit — and to represent to others that it has the legal right to do so — such photos, even though it owns no such rights,” Dlugolecki added in his complaint.
Although it seems at least somewhat reasonable that the photo departments of media outlets like People, ABC and Daily Mail could have merely taken at face value Yearbook Library’s claims of offering legitimate photo licenses, Dlugolecki said only ABC and People actually went that route. Daily Mail got a hold of the photos from another unknown source and published them.
Nevertheless, Dlugolecki is suing for willful and contributory infringement and unspecified financial damages, including any profits realized from the sale and publishing of the Markle images.
Representatives of the defendants could not be immediately reached for comment.
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