On Monday, March 25, the Supreme Court issued a notice saying that it would not hear a lawsuit brought by the photographer that shot a famous Michael Jordan image. The photographer claimed that Nike infringed on his copyright, because the company took his image and turned into the Jumpman logo. The case was decided by the Ninth Circuit earlier this year saying that there was no copyright infringement, because there was not a substantial similarity between this photograph and the resulting Jumpman logo.
This is a very, very important ruling in the copyright world because it basically states that a company could take a portion of an image, slightly alter it, create a logo and not be infringing on the artist.
Back in the mid-1980s, Nike licensed this very image from the photographer for $15,000 for a very limited use. Then, Nike ended up taking a portion of the image and developing the famous ‘JUMPMAN’ logo, hence the lawsuit. Think about how much money Nike has probably made from the ‘JUMPMAN’ logo, thanks to having seen this image. Unfortunately, for the photographer, the Supreme Court has said they’re not going to hear the case. So, the lower court’s decision, that there is no copyright infringement, will stand.