UNC reaches settlement with Justin Cook over copyright infringement, will also hold public forum about creative rights

This is wonderful news. After our post–one of this site’s most shared posts–on Justin Cook‘s futile attempts to get the University of North Carolina to acknowledge and correct its infringing usage of one of his photos, the University and Cook have reached a settlement. In a public statement on facebook, Cook wrote:

Yesterday The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I came to a resolution. They agreed to pay my fee for their use of my image, and I agreed to drop my copyright claim on the condition that the Department of Psychology collaborates with me, the UNC School of Law, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Media Law Center and others to hold an interdisciplinary public forum about the importance of creative rights.

This resolution is a win for everyone that is more meaningful than what any lawsuit could have afforded us, and it’s consistent with UNC’s core values. A community of impassioned friends and strangers united and pushed us to this huge victory that will further build community and foster conversation. That’s The Carolina Way!

Justin Cook, 5 November 2014

This is, indeed, a win for everyone. Cook’s issues with non-payment and infringement have been resolved and the greater community, including the infringing parties, will be working together to educate the public about the rights of creative workers, which I’m sure will include coverage of how to respect the copyright of photographers. I don’t think I could’ve imagined a better outcome.

I’m especially happy for this news. I’ve known Justin Cook basically since my start as a photojournalist, when we spent time together at the Flint Journal in Michigan. He’s a heck of a nice guy and a great photographer. Make sure to check out his portfolio and his most recent project, Made In Durham, a look at the effects of homicide, incarceration and gentrification in Durham, North Carolina.

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