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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Jun 19, 2013

A photographer is suing the popular viral content aggregator Buzzfeed for the unlicensed use of photo after he discovered the photo in a slideshow on the site.

The controversy began when a photographer from Idaho, Kai Eiselein, saw an article on Buzzfeed titled “The 30 Funniest Header Faces.” The article was a collection of 30 images displaying soccer players with humorous expressions on their faces as soccer balls collide with their heads.

The article has since been amended to “The 29 Funniest Header Faces” after Eiselein discovered his image was used illegally. The photo in question was uploaded to Eiselein’s flickr account and was marked “All Rights Reserved”

Shortly after the original post was published, the photo began appearing on multiple websites across, many of which use Buzzfeed to aggregate its content.

Disgruntled by the fact that his photo was used without permission, Eiselein filed a S3.6 million lawsuit against the publisher in New York early June. The reason for the massive number for a single photo? Eiselein asserts that Buzzfeed is not only responsible for its own copyright infringement but the infringement perpetrated by 23 other sites that used the same image.  That amounts to $150,000 in damages from Buzzfeed and an additional $150,000 for every other website that shared the image.

This case will be interesting as it addresses the fact that copyright law has yet to catch up to the “share” culture that has boomed on the internet.  The lawsuit is a major challenge to the business model that many websites are adopting. One in which websites will display images, credited or not, beside advertisements which generate revenue for the company.

This has not been the first time Buzzfeed has faced a copyright infringement suit. Last October, the website was sued for $1.3 million for publishing 9 celebrity photos without permission.

This humorous Onion article was released last week that seems to have predicted this debacle.