Lawsuit filed against Kentucky Sports Radio's Matt Jones

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A photographer has filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Kentucky Sports Radio and its co-owners, Matt Jones and Andrew Jefferson, claiming their website used several of his pictures without permission and refused to remove them.

Andrew Shurtleff, who describes himself as a full-time professional photographer with a self-titled business located in Virginia, claims he took photos for ESPN in 2009, 2010 and 2011 of high school players at basketball camps, which were used by ESPN on its website, along with a copyright notice. The pictures, which included future college players such as Kyrie Irving of Duke, were also used with permission by Yahoo! Inc.

But Shurtleff alleges in the suit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Lexington that he discovered in February 2011 that the KSR website run by Jones and Jefferson displayed seven of his photos from the camps, none of which were attributed to him.

On May 12, 2011, according to the suit, Shurtleff, through his attorney, notified KSR and demanded the site take down the photos. Jones replied to the letter but did not take down the photos, according to the suit.

A few months later, Shurtleff claims he discovered that KSR was displaying 11 more basketball camp photographs with only two giving him credit.

On June 6, Shurtleff's attorney again contacted Jones but the pictures were not removed, according to the suit. The suit claims all of the pictures remain on the website and his copyright notices have been removed or altered.

KSR is benefiting from Shurtleff's work and business, Andrew Shurtleff Photography LLC., and have not compensated him, according to the suit.

Griffin Terry Sumner, an attorney at Frost, Brown Todd, who represents Kentucky Sports Radio, said KSR takes the complaint "very seriously and respects copyright owner's rights."

Terry Sumner said she had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't talk about the specific allegations but that "when fans see photographs on Kentucky Sports Radio," she said, "Kentucky Sports Radio uses third party photographs through agreements allowing the rights to use them."

In a statement on his website, Jones wrote "we disagree with the allegations in the complaint for a variety of reasons and will defend them accordingly. KSR uses photos on its site based on a variety of sources, including third party agreements. We hope to move past this quickly and focus on our UK sports coverage in the most ridiculous manner possible.

"Either way, we thank all the media outlets who have decided to cover this issue with vigor for finally acknowledging the existence of KSR and we hope they will thank us in return for the clicks that they sought out in the process."

The lawsuit is seeking either "all profits and damages" from the use of the photos or statutory penalty or damages of up to $150,000  for each violation. And the suit asks a federal judge to prohibit KSR from using any of Shurtleff's photos. 

Shurtleff's attorney, Annie O'Connell, declined to comment.

A Dec. 21 profile of Jones by the Lexington Herald-Leader claims the Herald-Leader, the Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Kernel, which is UK's student newspaper, and other news organizations have repeatedly demanded that KSR's blog stop reposting their copyright photographs without permission.

The Herald Leader wrote that much of a Nov. 6 online report by the Kernel – which was about senior UK guard Jon Hood's Toyota Tundra getting a ticket and its tires getting slashed – was quickly copied onto KSR's blog, including two photos.

"We have made a claim to him and he's denied it, and we're in negotiations with him," Jon Fleischaker, a prominent Louisville media attorney representing the Kernel told the newspaper. "I am hopeful that we can do that without litigation."

In an interview Tuesday, Fleischaker said, "we think we made our point and Matt Jones recognized our point and he seems to have acknowledged it." Fleischaker declined to go into more detail about the issue.

Terry Sumner said Kentucky Sports Report "had an agreement with the Kentucky Kernel that allowed use of to use photographs" on the blog.

Jones, who has a law degree from Duke, started KSR in 2005 and now has two full-time writers, and a part-time writer and also uses unpaid student interns, according to the Herald-Leader.

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.