Michael Jordan’s Jumpman van NIKE geen copyright infringement

In 1984 maakte Jacobus Rentmeester in aanloop naar de Olympische Spelen de linker foto van de toen 21-jarige Michael Jordan voor LIFE Magazine. NIKE’s creative director verkreeg voor $150 een tijdelijke licentie de foto voor interne presentaties te gebruiken. Een paar maanden later liet NIKE zelf de rechter foto maken. Rentmeester claimde dat dit een auteursrechtinbreuk was en maakte bezwaar, waarna partijen de kwestie schikten. Nike betaalde Rentmeester $15.000 in ruil waarvoor NIKE de eigen foto twee jaar lang op posters en billboards in Noord-Amerika mocht gebruiken.

Vervolgens lanceerde NIKE in 1987 de Air Jordan schoenenlijn en
ontwierp daarvoor dit logo:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over de pose voor het logo zei Michael Jordan tegenover Hoop Magazine (1997):

It’s like my logo. I wasn’t even dunking on that one. People think that I was. I just stood on the floor, jumped up and spread my legs and they took the picture. I wasn’t even running. Everyone thought I did that by running and taking off. Actually, it was a ballet move where I jumped up and spread my legs. And I was holding the ball in my left hand.

Rentmeester vond dat het logo auteursrechtinbreuk op zijn foto maakte. Hij had Jordan namelijk voor zijn foto in deze bijzondere pose gedirigeerd.

Vorige week oordeelde de 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in een 2 tegen 1 beslissing dat de NIKE foto weliswaar “obviously inspired” was op de foto van Rentmeester, maar dat geen sprake was van auteursrechtinbreuk. Rentmeester kan de pose van Jordan niet monopoliseren en de foto’s verschillen op meer punten dan alleen op onbeduidende details:

With respect to a photograph’s subject matter, no photographer can claim a monopoly on the right to photograph a particular subject just because he was the first to capture it on film. A subsequent photographer is free to take her own photo of the same subject, again so long as the resulting image is not substantially similar to the earlier photograph. That remains true even if, as here, a photographer creates wholly original subject matter by having someone pose in an unusual or distinctive way. Without question, one of the highly original elements of Rentmeester’s photo is the fanciful (non-natural) pose he asked Jordan to assume. That pose was a product of Rentmeester’s own “intellectual invention,” […] Without gainsaying the originality of the pose Rentmeester created, he cannot copyright the pose itself and thereby prevent others from photographing a person in the same pose. He is entitled to protection only for the way the pose is expressed in his photograph, a product of not just the pose but also the camera angle, timing, and shutter speed Rentmeester chose. If a subsequent photographer persuaded Michael Jordan to assume the exact same pose but took her photo, say, from a bird’s eye view directly above him, the resulting image would bear little resemblance to Rentmeester’s photo and thus could not be deemed infringing. […]

We conclude that the works at issue here are as a matter of law not substantially similar. Just as Rentmeester made a series of creative choices in the selection and arrangement of the elements in his photograph, so too Nike’s photographer made his own distinct choices in that regard. Those choices produced an image that differs from Rentmeester’s photo in more than just minor details.