Court Allows Pearson Education To Negotiate With Photographers

Posted on 6/10/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Over the past decade Pearson Education has used in its textbooks an unknown, but significant number of images beyond what the original licenses allowed and without properly compensating rights holders. Within the last couple years many agencies and photographers have become aware of this issue and pursued a variety of courses of action in the hopes of receiving some compensation for the use of their imagery. In a few instances Pearson has acknowledged such actions and there have been a few settlements, but all of the settlements have been under non-disclosure of the terms.

In September 2010 the law firm of Nelson & McCulloch, LLP filed a suit for Norbert Wu and “all other similarly situated” in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. They requested “Class Certification” for their suit and made a motion to stop Pearson from continuing to negotiate settlements with photographers and stock agencies until the judge could rule on whether the class could be certified.

On Tuesday June 7, 2011 U.S. District Judge James C. Francis IV denied Norbert Wu’s request for an injunction to stop improper contacts by Pearson with photographers and stock agencies. Pearson is now free to resume negotiations of unauthorized use settlements. The class certification is still an open question and will be ruled on by Judge Richard J. Holwell at a later date. Those who choose to negotiate settlements now may be able to get larger settlements if the class is eventually approved and the Wu case is successful.

There are indications that Pearson is now prepared to settle as many of these claims as possible. Claimants whose discussions were put on hold may wish to restart negotiations.

For more information on what has been happening in the Textbook business check out the following stories.
Textbook Licensing: Where the Clean-up Meets the Cover-up

Ethics in the Textbook Publishing Business
Publishers Owe For Past Uses
Photographers vs. Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Jon Feingersh Posted Jun 14, 2011
    Jim-- The line above is unclear: "Those who choose to negotiate settlements now may be able to get larger settlements if the class is eventually approved and the Wu case is successful."

    Are you saying it is better to negotiate now? Or better to wait for a class action?

    If you're saying now, perhaps the sentence should read: "Those who choose to negotiate settlements now may be able to get larger settlements THAN if the class is eventually approved and the Wu case is successful."

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