Thirty years ago, artist Jack Mackie was able to schmooze the city of Seattle into paying him to sculpt a series of dance steps on a public sidewalk .
Now he is suing anybody who photographs the dance steps on the grounds of copyright infringement.
With that logic, he should probably get sued himself for reproducing the steps that he did not create in the first place.
While his lawsuit seems frivolous and without merit, it is being taken serious by defendant Mark Hipple, the man who photographed the dance steps ten years ago and made a whopping $60 off his shots.
Mackie was able to convince Hipple’s stock photo agency to remove the photos and even received a “hefty settlement” from them, but was not satisfied with that result.
So now he asking for statutory damages of about $60,000, according to Hipple’s blog.
Despite my (and my lawyers’) belief that my photograph is clearly fair use, I’ve tried to settle this case many times without having to resort to expensive and time-consuming litigation. Unfortunately, Mr. Mackie has left the settlement table and refuses to return. He already got a hefty settlement from my stock photo agency (they had an insurance policy, and unfortunately I don’t), but he seems intent on squeezing me.
In 1998, Mackie sued the Seattle Symphony for using images of the dance steps in a marketing campaign. A judge awarded him $1,000.
He wanted more, so he appealed and lost.
The Capital Hill Seattle blog suggests covering the dance steps up to prevent further legal dilemma.
I would suggest they take it one step further and remove the steps altogether before shoving them up Mackie’s ass.