The photographer who snapped the infamous picture of Desmond Howard's Heisman pose after scoring a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1991 has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement, according to The Detroit News. The lawsuit includes several companies and even Howard himself.
Freelance photographer Brian Masck alleges several entities have used the portrait taken during the 1991 Michigan-Ohio State game without his consent.
Also named in the 63-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, are Getty Images, Sports Illustrated, Champions Press LLC, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Fathead LLC, the Detroit-based sports graphics company that is part of the Quicken Loans Inc. family of companies.
"…(T)hese various intellectual property pirates who are defendants in this case have taken a business crowbar to that byline and have pried Brian Masck's name away from his iconic photograph. They have separated him from his work," the lawsuit says. "The Heisman pose and Brian's iconic photograph which captured it have both gone viral. The name Brian Masck has not."The lawsuit calls the iconic Heisman pose a "cultural phenhomenon" and one with which is "synonymous with college football". The suit even alleges President Barack Obama has struck the pose at one point in time.
Masck is claiming that he has been cheated of notoriety and money from the shot, and that the whole ordeal has been the cause of great "distress and frustration" for him, personally.
Masck was granted a copyright for the photo in 2011. However, his attempt at selling the copyright for as much as $300,000 proved to be unsuccessful.
"My client tried for a long time to suppress his disappointment and for not being recognized," said his attorney, Thomas Blaske. "(Masck) wants a permanent injunction against the misuse of his picture and wants their profits. But even of a higher priority to Brian Masck, he wants credit. … It's no different than any artist."
Howard won the Heisman Memorial Trophy in 1991, of course, en route to earning All-American honors. He played 11 seasons in the NFL and was 2-time Pro Bowl selection. He earned Super Bowl MVP honors in 1996 after racking up 244 all-purpose yards in the Green Bay Packers' win over the New England Patriots. He is one of only four players in history to win both the Heisman and Super Bowl MVP.
Via The Detroit News