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Advertising Copyright Suit Ends in Favorable Settlement for Fine Art and Advertising Photographer

Case Study

Advertising Copyright Suit Ends in Favorable Settlement for Fine Art and Advertising Photographer

August 29, 2019
Michael A. Siem

Jill Greenberg’s “Cats on Glass” portraits—and ensuing infringement dispute—grabbed headlines worldwide


Fine art and advertising photographer Jill Greenberg obtained a favorable settlement after a legal battle with Clorox Co. and its advertising agency, Dentsu McGarryBowen, that grabbed headlines in major photography, advertising, and intellectual property publications.

The suit began when the photographer’s portraits of cats—shot from below, through Plexiglas, in a style the photographer made so famous that it is known in art schools as “The Greenberg Method”—started appearing in places and uses that Ms. Greenberg alleged were prohibited by the original contract. The Complaint alleged that the images were used in videos on social media, downloadable wallpaper for computers and other devices, and a segment on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Goldberg Segalla’s Michael A. Siem and Debra L. Doby, Manhattan-based partners in the firm’s Intellectual Property practice, represented Greenberg in the matter. As media covering the dispute reported, the suit raised important issues pertaining to the limits of copyrights and licensing agreements.

“This case demonstrates the inherent tension between industry practices and best practices to secure adequate protections for artists’ work,” Doby and Siem said. “It is important that the parties clearly define to the scope of the work to be done and the agreed upon usage so that the artist is fairly compensated for the use of their copyrights. We are happy that we were able to resolve this for Ms. Greenberg without protracted litigation and clarify the appropriate future usage of her work.”

Read coverage of the dispute and settlement:


About Goldberg Segalla:

Goldberg Segalla is one of the largest and fastest-growing law firms headquartered in the United States, with a footprint that reaches from Los Angeles to London. Its more than 400 attorneys serve regional, national, and international clients from over 20 offices, with teams based in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, St. Louis, and other major business and economic centers across 10 states. An AmLaw200 firm, Goldberg Segalla handles all forms of dispute resolution, guides clients through complex transactions, and provides proactive legal and regulatory counsel to help companies and professionals from a wide range of industries minimize and manage risk.

The firm’s collaborative culture and team-first philosophy have earned it respect and admiration from peers and clients, a spot on the national Fortune 100 Best Medium Workplaces list, and continual placement in statewide and regional rankings of the best places to work. Its client-driven, natural growth earned national recognition in the 2017 Law360 400 ranking of the largest U.S. law firms, which showed Goldberg Segalla to be the firm growing the fastest without taking part in a merger. The firm is proud to have received numerous recognitions for its commitment to diversity, thought leadership, and prominence in key practices and industries that place it alongside or above long-established firms many times its size.