Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Advantage Greenberg in Ongoing NGS Case


The 10-year-old back-and-forth copyright infringement dispute between the National Geographic Society (NGS) and photographer Jerry Greenberg has taken yet another turn. In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals said it will reconsider its June 2007 decision to vacate a jury award in favor of Greenberg.

Greenberg originally sued NGS in 1997, claiming that the publisher used his images on a CD-ROM compilation without his permission. Her contended that the CD-ROM was not a revision of past work but a new product. NGS countered that the CD was legitimate because it was a compilation of all NGS back issues. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in Greenberg's favor in 2001 and remanded the decisions to a lower court, which later awarded Greenberg with $400,000 in damages for NGS's willful infringement.

This past June, however, a three-judge panel from the 11th Circuit Court reversed its 2001 ruling and retracted the award, reasoning that an intervening Supreme Court case had changed the legal framework regarding the Greenberg case.

In response to the June decision by the three-judge panel, Greenberg requested that all 12 judges on the 11th Circuit hold a hearing on the case. A majority of the judges accepted the request and threw out the June ruling by the three judges. A date for the new hearing has yet to be set.