Tesla Sued Over Promotional Video

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December 5, 2022

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(TEXAS)—A Texas photographer sued Tesla for copyright infringement on Oct. 24 claiming the carmaker used one of his photos without payment or permission. 

James Martin, the owner of the photograph in question, specializes in creating photos for the transportation industry. According to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Tesla used Martin’s photo of a dashboard in  “Tesla Semi & Roadster Unveil,” a video it posted on its  YouTube channel on Dec. 15, 2017.

Martin also alleges that Tesla intentionally added false information about the origin of the photograph, and removed the original management rights in the metadata of the photograph. The video including Martin’s work has been viewed more than  10.5 million times and it is still available on Youtube. The photo in question has been blurred out, and it is not clear when this was done.

The lawsuit states that Martin registered the photo with the copyright office on January 27, 2022, more than four years after the video was posted. The lawsuit says Tesla as “Defendant has committed copyright infringement with actual knowledge or reckless disregard of Plaintiff’s rights” and “Defendant’s infringement is ongoing.”  

“Defendant has obtained unjust profits and benefit they would not otherwise have realized but for their infringement of Subject Photograph,” the complaint says. Martin is seeking compensation including all profits of Tesla obtained from the photograph and all financial losses of due to Tesla’s alleged copyright infringement. 

Attorneys for Tesla could not be reached for comment. 

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