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Gouverneur paper asks judge to dismiss photographer’s lawsuit

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GOUVERNEUR — Gouverneur Tribune-Press Inc. is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a professional photographer who claims the newspaper used her copyrighted works without permission.

Amy Elliott, operator of Impression Studio, sued the paper and its publisher, M. Dan McClelland, in January in U.S. District Court, Albany, maintaining that the paper infringed upon her rights by copying and distributing at least 38 of her images from about September 2008 until June 2012. Mrs. Elliott shoots portraits, including children, high school seniors and weddings, according to the action.

The primary issue revolves around photos taken of high school seniors that were subsequently reproduced in the paper. Mrs. Elliott contends that she has valid copyright registrations for the photos, requiring her permission for publications. According to a memorandum of law in support of the Tribune-Press’s motion to have the action dismissed, the paper disputes that Mrs. Elliott held copyrights for the pictures published in the paper.

The paper claims, among other things, that Mrs. Elliott did not obtain copyrights for the 38 disputed photos until July 2012, after they had been published in the paper. The paper also contends that while Mrs. Elliott obtained copyrights for collections of “unpublished” photos, the photos run by the paper had actually already been “published” in yearbooks or on Impression Studio’s Website, both of which are available to the public. The paper argues that published photos cannot be registered as part of a collection of unpublished photos, making her copyright of the disputed photos invalid.

A hearing on the paper’s motion to dismiss has been set for Jan. 21 in Albany before Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.

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