Well well, I think we can safely file this one under frivolous. Photographer Thomas Hawk visited the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami, with his camera of course, and took a few photos during his stay. A guard asked him whether he was making a book, and Hawk said no. He later put the pictures up on Flickr.
Not long after, the museum informed Mr. Hawk that they were suing him for a minimum of two million dollars.
In the suit, the museum states that it has posted a sign at the entrance (Hawk says he didn’t see it, but that’s immaterial if it’s posted) prohibiting “any professional photography or flash photography.” Since Hawk did not use a flash, and is only using these photos for personal purposes, he is not in violation of that prohibition.
And in addition to the great sin of showing pictures taken at a museum he visited, Hawk is under fire for using the museum’s name in connection with said pictures. “Plaintiff has not authorized any one to use the tradename and trademark [World Erotic Art Museum] in connection with the Infringing Photographs, either in the title of the unauthorized Infringing Photographs or in the promotional material for the Infringing Photographs.”
Methinks the museum’s lawyer might want to brush up on his intellectual property, copyright, and trademark law. They can’t seriously expect any results from this ridiculous suit, and it’s probably going to cost them a bundle. With luck, Mr. Hawk can find a lawyer who will work this pro bono and have his costs reimbursed by the court when the suit is found to be frivolous.
Looking for prohibited photos in general? Check out Strictly No Photography.