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Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
377 F. Supp. 2d 444 (2006)


Facts

Jonathan Mannion (plaintiff) was hired to photograph an athlete, Kevin Garnett, for a spread in SLAM magazine. One of the photographs ultimately featured in the spread was distinctive in its combination of all-white athletic clothing and distinctive jewelry, as well as its pose, camera angle, lighting, and background. Mannion had instructed Garnett on what kind of clothing and accessories to wear and how to pose. However, Garnett selected the specific items to wear to meet Mannion’s requests. Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA) (defendant) was hired by Coors Brewing Company (Coors) (defendant) to create billboard ads for Coors Light beer. CHWA obtained permission to use Mannion’s photograph in a comp-board image when pitching billboards to Coors. However, when the final billboard was made, CHWA used another photographer to create an image that was substantially the same with respect to the subject’s clothing and accessories, pose, camera angle, lighting, and background. Mannion saw the billboard and brought suit for copyright infringement. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)

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