Court to photog: Your Jordan was no Jumpman

[Jacobus] Rentmeester, with two assistants, traveled to the UNC campus [in 1984] to create the Jordan Photo [for Life magazine]….  Mr. Rentmeester wanted to maximize visual attention on an isolated figure of Mr. Jordan… with a background of sky rather than the interior of an auditorium….

“UNC staff agreed to allow Mr. Rentmeester to set up at a relatively isolated knoll…  He directed his assistants to purchase a basketball hoop, backboard, and pole, and told them where to dig a hole for the pole and to position the hoop.

“To further minimize visual distractions, Mr. Rentmeester asked his assistants to borrow a lawnmower from the UNC groundskeeping staff.  They mowed the grass as low as possible to maximize attention on Mr. Jordan’s soaring figure.

“Over approximately one half hour, Mr. Jordan practiced leaping according to Mr. Rentmeester’s instructions.  The pose differed substantially from Mr. Jordan’s natural jumps, during gameplay or otherwise (for instance, Mr. Jordan typically held the basketball with his right hand), and required practice and repeated attempts….”

— From plaintiff’s brief cited in “Iconic Nike Logo Alleged to Infringe Photographer’s Copyright” at cohornlaw.com

“A photographer who took a photo of pre-superstar Michael Jordan … could not persuade the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] that Nike ripped him off with its ‘Jumpman’ logo.

“While the panel concluded it was plausible that Nike copied the photo,  Jacobus Rentmeester could claim copyright only to his creative choices, such as camera angle and lighting, [not to] the midair pose itself….”

— From “Photographer Can’t Copyright Michael Jordan’s Jump Pose” by Nick McCann at courthousenews.com (Feb. 28, 2018)

 

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