Skip to main content

Swiss artist slaps Apple with lawsuit for using image without permission

Apple is caught in the crosshairs of another lawsuit, this time by a Swiss artist alleging that the Cupertino-based company unlawfully used her work in an ad campaign.

Sabine Liewald has filed a copyright suit for her registered photograph – "Eye Closeup" – which was used in connection with Apple's Retina display MacBook Pro promotion.

As reported by Patently Apple, the suit claims that Liewald's photo, obtained through her agent Factory Downtown, was used without proper license. Apple requested a high-res copy of the photo for layout purposes only and, according to the filing, "was fully aware at all times that it had not acquired any rights to use the photograph in advertisements without obtaining additional permission from [Liewald] or Factory Downtown." Apple reportedly told the agency that it had no intention of using the picture in its advertising campaign.

Still, Apple moved ahead with its use of the "Eye Closeup" photo, including it in its MacBook Pro advertising campaign, keynote address, and related advertising materials, all without permission or compensation, the suit said.

The colourful image was used to show off Apple's new Retina display machines, which were unwrapped during June's Worldwide Developers Conference.

Liewald is seeking damages in the case, which was filed last week in the New York Southern District Court.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As CNET pointed out, this isn't Apple's first time in the ring with a photographer. Louis Psihoyos sued the company twice - in 2007 and 2009 - over an Apple TV promotion that resembled his "1000 TVs" image.