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Photographer sues Nexstar Media Group over copyright infringement

The federal lawsuit concerns two photos that were reused on the websites of Nexstar-owned TV stations.

The federal lawsuit concerns two photos that were reused on the websites of Nexstar-owned TV stations.

(Stock image, Graphic by The Desk)

A professional photographer has filed a federal lawsuit against Nexstar Media Group alleging copyright infringement after two of her photos were apparently used on television station websites without her permission.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by Julie Dermansky, a notoriously litigious photographer who has filed similar copyright infringement complaints against other corporate-owned media outlets over the last several years.

In this case, Dermansky alleges two local television stations owned by Nexstar used a pair of her photographs as filler in a handful of news reports. The images include a photograph that shows the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and a picture of a hand saw.

Both photographs were licensed to other media outlets with the condition that Dermansky be credited in a clear and conspicuous manner whenever they are re-used. Dermansky alleges Nexstar-owned CBS affiliate WKRG (Channel 5) and Fox affiliate WGMB (Channel 44) used both images in their own news reports without credit to her, violating the terms of the licensing and re-use agreements.

In May, a law firm representing Dermansky sent a letter to Nexstar informing them of the alleged infringement, according to a copy of the note obtained by The Desk. The letter offered to settle the matter for a one-time payment of $200,000, as well as a demand that Nexstar immediately remove the image from all of their websites.

Nexstar apparently complied with the request to remove the image, but rejected a demand for payment. Last week, Dermansky filed her lawsuit against the company, seeking actual and punitive damages that could climb in excess of $250,000 per offense if they are sustained.

Dermansky has filed similar lawsuits against other companies and organizations over the last few years, including a 2017 lawsuit against former U.S. President Donald Trump, who re-used one of her pictures on his Instagram account without permission. The case settled within a matter of months.

Dermansky has also filed lawsuits against major media companies, including Blavity, Vice Media and Penske Media, alleging similar violations of her copyright over their reuse of her images. Nearly all the lawsuits brought by Dermansky resulted in settlements reached out of court.

On her website, Dermansky lists herself as a Louisiana-based photographer — where at least one of the Nexstar stations at the center of her latest lawsuit is located — and says reuse of her images requires a license agreement.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).