AP Slapped With Suit Over Bomb Video

A New Jersey video production company whose surveillance cameras captured the bombing of the military recruiter’s station in Times Square in 2008 is suing the Associated Press for selling the footage to other media outlets.

Ken Petretti Production, whose clients include ESPN, Lucas Films and ABC, among others, claims that the news service is “free-riding” on its business by redistributing the video to other news outlets.

On March 6, 2008 at 4 a.m., a lone figure planted a homemade bomb outside the small U.S. Armed Forces Career Center in Times Square, which blew out the windows when it detonated.

Petretti, whose cameras captured the entire sequence, turned over the footage to the New York City Police Department for their investigation and filed for copyright protection.

To assist with the investigation, the police department released the video to the Associated Press for broadcast. The news service, in turn, sold the film to CNN, Fox News, ABC and Clip Syndicate—a violation of Petretti’s copyright, according to the complaint. He alleges that the wire service sold the footage again on each anniversary of the bombing.

A spokesman for the AP said that they had not seen the complaint and declined to comment further.

Generally, news outlets are allowed to use a portion of copyrighted material for their reporting under the “fair use” doctrine. It remains to be seen if that allows the organization to sell copyrighted material to others.

Last year, a Haitian photographer, Daniel Morel, became embroiled in a federal lawsuit with the Agence France Presse over a similar issue. The AFP and several news organizations used and syndicated photographs of the Haitian earthquake damage that Morel had posted to his Twitter account. A judge ruled in February that the suit could move forward.

Last month, Swatch, the watch company, sued Bloomberg LP over a similar issue. The watch manufacturer claims that the business news giant violated its copyright when it recorded the company’s earnings call and distributed a transcript of the event to its subscribers.