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Photographers' Group Sues Kmart Over Illegal Reprints

December 05, 1999|STEVE KARNOWSKI | ASSOCIATED PRESS

MINNEAPOLIS — Attention, Kmart shoppers: The Professional Photographers of America says the discount retailer can't sell you copies of graduation portraits, wedding pictures and other photos taken by professionals.

PPA has filed a lawsuit against Kmart in federal court in an effort to protect the copyrights of its more than 14,000 members. Many of them earn a substantial part of their income through selling reprints of the pictures they shoot.

Stephen Morris, a spokesman for Atlanta-based PPA, said Friday that the group took action against Kmart because it had received numerous complaints from members, and the Troy, Mich.-based chain failed to take its warnings seriously.

"Sales associates in Kmart imaging centers are told to refuse all reprint or enlargement requests for copyrighted photos without the proper written permission of the original photographer," said Kmart spokeswoman Mary Lorencz.

Protecting copyrights was less of a problem for photographers when the only way to make a good reprint was from the original negative or transparency, which professionals typically keep. The association says it has become a serious problem in this age of high-quality color copiers and digital imaging.

PPA filed the lawsuit on behalf of itself and Spectrum Images of North St. Paul. It seeks $600,000 in damages and an injunction prohibiting the 2,159 Kmart stores across the country from operating color copiers until the company takes steps to prevent copyright infringement.

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