Panafrican News Agency

Massive lawsuit filed over Mandela photograph

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – A South African photographer has filed one of the biggest copyright lawsuits in history, seeking US$179 million for the unauthorized use of his image of world statesman Nelson Mandela.

The photograph was taken when a beaming Mandela met former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in Pretoria in January 1999.

Photographer Shaun Harris has approached the North Gauteng High Court seeking compensation from the Government Communication Information System (GCIS). GCIS acting director-general Phumla Williams denies the image was used unlawfully.

In its response, GCIS says it purchased the rights to use the image as the official photograph at Mandela’s 2013 funeral. However, it then allegedly distributed the image to every South African embassy, consulate and mission in the world after removing Harris’s credit. A message accompanying the image granted permission for it to be freely distributed.

Harris’s agency PictureNet commissioned a forensic study on the distribution of the image and found that it was used more that two million times around the world.
-0- PANA CU/MA 26Feb2018