Despite his claims to the contrary, Donald Trump does indeed settle. Lawsuits, that is. The latest legal action to not be fully litigated against the presumptive Republican nominee has to do with an “iconic” image of a bald eagle. Photographers Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski took Trump to court over claims that he used their picture of the national bird on various campaign merchandise without their approval. But now, according to John DeBoer, the photographers’ lawyer, the case “has been amicably resolved.”
This is by no means the first run-in with an eagle-related controversy experienced by the real estate mogul, reality television star, and presidential contender. Trump was previously attacked by one of these majestic birds during a photo shoot for Time Magazine.
But in this particular incident, it wasn’t the bird doing the attacking, but rather the owners of the image Trump allegedly used without their permission. The Denver-based duo discovered the use of their photograph in Trump’s campaign back in February, when coverage of the candidate’s New Hampshire activities revealed a supporter carrying “a printed sign promoting Mr. Trump that appeared to incorporate the Photograph.”
They then realized that Trump’s team was selling merchandise allegedly displaying the image, and further claimed that supporters were encouraged to use the image elsewhere, all without the photographers’ consent. “The Defendants published content incorporating the Photograph via Internet social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, intending that the individuals accessing such content via those services would ‘share’ … that content,” read the complaint, which was filed in Manhattan federal court on March 23. “The effect … is the rampant viral infringement of Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights in their Photograph.”
As per the complaint, Rozinski snapped the image in 1980, when “the American bald eagle faced extirpation in North America due to poisonous DDT pesticide use, among other factors.”
“The Photograph captures a piercing, intimate, eye-to-eye moment with this majestic creature with near-perfect symmetry against a flawless sky blue background,” the plaintiffs stated in the complaint. “It would be difficult, as perhaps an understatement, to recreate such an image given the challenge of replicating and capturing such a fleeting moment in nature.”
Apparently, the photographers initially attempted to settle out of court, to no avail. But now, it would seem that all’s well that ends well, and the case of the bald eagle copyright has finally been laid to rest.