A Haitian freelance photographer who posted photos of the devastation after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake was awarded $1.2 million when a jury determined Agence France-Presse and Getty Images had licensed his photos without permission or compensation. Major media outlets including The Washington Post, CBS and CNN all used Daniel Morel’s images, furiously competing to fulfill the seemingly insatiable media appetite for “disaster porn.” Morel had posted the images to Twitter in the aftermath of the quake. Some big media companies settled privately with Morel before the $1.2 million judgment, according to Reuters.
Agence France-Presse reps apparently believed the photos had been posted for “public distribution” (which still doesn’t explain why it decided to sell them). In fact, AFP sued Morel first, trying to get him to say that AFP hadn’t done anything wrong by distributing the photos–that anything posted on Twitter was essentially up for grabs. The jury disagreed, and Morel scored a victory for the individual contractor against the overzealous corporation. His data, in other words, weren’t surrendered simply because he shared them. Many articles around the Web about the Haiti quake are now missing photos.