Natkin v. Winfrey
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
111 F. Supp. 2d 1003 (2000)
Paul Natkin and Stephen Green (plaintiffs) were photographers hired by Harpo (defendant), the production firm of Oprah Winfrey (defendant) to photograph Winfrey on the set of her television show. Both men were professional live-event photographers with separate photography businesses. Both photographers were hired by Harpo without a written agreement. Both photographers worked for the show for about seven years. They had little control over the actual television show, but they exercised great control over their methods, what equipment they purchased and used, and how they conducted their shooting. Harpo did not withhold taxes from the men’s payments and reported the payments as nonemployee compensation on its tax returns. Harpo provided no insurance, paid vacation, or other similar benefits. Natkin and Green, not Harpo, were responsible for hiring substitute photographers if they could not photograph a show. At some point, Winfrey published a book and used 11 of the photographs taken by the two photographers without their permission. Natkin and Green filed a claim for copyright infringement in the district court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Castillo, J.)
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