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Corbis Charged with Usage Violations of Celebrity Images


Photo stock image company Corbis is facing charges of violating celebrity image copyright laws for the third time in the last two years.

This most recent class action lawsuit, initiated by former "Partridge Family" actress Shirley Jones, was filed in January 2011. Jones claims that Corbis violated her publicity rights by advertising her name and likeness for commercial gain without first obtaining her permission.

Although the first two lawsuits, filed in 2009 by actress Anna Maria Alberghetti and Pointer Sisters singer Bonnie Pointer, were scheduled to go to trial, they were thrown out because they had exceeded the statue of limitations and were no longer protected by copyright law. In Jones' case, however, this will not be a factor, as the images were taken in 2010.

The decision that will have to be made in this case is whether or not Corbis is in fact using these images for commercial gain. Corbis argues that their use of celebrity images is protected by the First Amendment, as they are used for editorial purposes. Jones and her team are claiming that the images are being used for marketing, not editorial content.

If the courts rule in favor of Jones, editorial users would have to file for permission before using any celebrity likeness.