- Photographer Shaun Harris is suing the government for unlawful use of a photo of Nelson Mandela
- He claims the government used the picture unlawfully after removing his credits
- The government denies his claims and says the picture was used according to the license they bought
Photographer Shaun Harris is reportedly suing government’s communication agency – Government Communication Information System (GCIS) – for R2.1 billion over a photograph of former president Nelson Mandela.
Harris took the photo when Mandela met then UK prime minister Tony Blair in January 1999.
Briefly.co.za learned that according to reports, Harris claimed his image of the late world icon was criminally used.
It was allegedly used without the correct copyright clearance from his former agents PictureNet. The claim is expected to be heard by the Pretoria High Court.
The picture was allegedly used as the official photograph and Mandela's funeral in 2013, which GCIS reportedly bought the rights to.
Harris claimed it was also allegedly used internationally after his and PictureNet’s credits were removed.
In 2014, Harris previously sued GCIS for R20 million for the use of the image, but the amount has increased due to a new preliminary forensic report PictureNet commissioned on the picture’s use.
“The 62-page forensic analysis and its 165-odd pages of annexes paint a damning picture of GCIS’ use of the image, racking up at least 2.1 million uses around the world, each penalised at R10 000 per infringement which amounts to the R2.1 billion claim. Although the amount is astronomical, copyright experts told City Press that in the US, for example, such infringements each receive a $150 000 (R1.7 million) penalty,” City Press reported.
GCIS acting director-general Phumla Williams has denied the image was used unlawfully.
“This case has gone to and fro and he has changed lawyers several times. We asked Harris repeatedly to prove his claims, which he never could,” she said.
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