News / Ottawa

A picture may be worth $25,000 if Ottawa photographer wins lawsuit

An image of 24 Sussex Drive that a local radio station thought it could use for free could end up costing big bucks.

This image of 24 Sussex Drive was taken by The Canadian Press, but a different image taken by local photographer Paul Couvrette has landed Boom 99.7 FM in legal trouble.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

This image of 24 Sussex Drive was taken by The Canadian Press, but a different image taken by local photographer Paul Couvrette has landed Boom 99.7 FM in legal trouble.

An image of 24 Sussex Drive that radio station Boom 99.7 FM thought they could use for free could end up costing the station $25,000 if a local photographer’s lawsuit is successful.

In October a Boom host posted the image to the station’s Facebook feed, asking listeners if the historic house should be torn down or remodelled. The image was pulled from a Google search, according to the lawsuit.

When Ottawa photographer Paul Couvrette recognized his image in the Facebook post, he reached out to the station, asking they take it down since they hadn’t paid for it.

The image was removed within 48 hours, and Boom’s promotions manager, Krista Datars, called to apologize.

In court documents, Couvrette said while he appreciated the apology, the damage was already done.

The photo had previously generated hundreds of dollars in revenue for his photography business, including being sold to Chatelaine for $450 and CPAC for $350, he claimed. Couvrette further claims that he has had trouble selling the photo since it appeared on the station's Facebook page because it’s now overexposed.

He estimates that because the photo is “one of the best images of the site,” and a popular news topic, his potential losses are $25,000 – and he wants Corus Entertainment to pay.

In court documents Corus acknowledges that it violated copyright but calls the damages “speculative” and “excessive.”

The company said Boom didn’t try to monetize the image and it can’t be held responsible for the 40 people that shared the image over Facebook.

The lawsuit, first filed in December, is still ongoing.

Couvrette declined to comment until the case concludes. Representatives from Corus Entertainment and Boom 99.7 did not respond to requests for comment.

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