Artist Steven Cogle is suing Disney for using his images without permission on TV show The Resident

Artists are always struggling to be properly recognized for their work, but imagine: what if one day you sat on your couch watching TV and recognized your image in the background of a scene without approving it?

As artist Steven Cogle puts it, that is exactly what happened. On Oct. 28, Cogle filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company alleging that the Disney-owned Fox Network featured some of his artwork in a medical drama series titled The Walt Disney Company the inhabitant without first obtaining his consent.

In the scenes in question, actor Morris Chestnut reviews two paintings, that of Cogle basketball and paparazzi, in an art gallery. According to the artist, in July 2019 he received an email from Consuela Schofield-Morrison stating that she was the director of production company Reel Girls Films and that the company was looking for an artist to have work featured the inhabitant.

Morrison’s business partner Daphne Pittman Hayes was then used as an intermediate buyer the inhabitant, but according to Cogle, he never signed documents provided by Hayes or anyone else related to the project granting permission to use his artwork on the show. The Daily Beast reached out to Hayes, who was previously unaware of the lawsuit and declined to comment on the records.

Hayes “solicited and received work from Mr. Cogle, but the understanding he reasonably had was that before a final decision was made to use the work, some paperwork would be sent to him, and the remuneration and conditions under which.” the work was going to be used would be discussed and he never received that notice,” Brian Robinson, Cogle’s attorney, told The Daily Beast.

Scenes from The Resident with the art in question.

Courtesy of Steven Cogle

Instead, the complaint alleges that someone named Muneer Pittman, who may be a relative of Hayes, falsely posed as Cogle’s agent and received a payment after licensing the artist’s paintings to Disney without his consent, a payment he says Cogle has not yet received received. The Daily Beast reached out to Cogle, Disney, and others the inhabitant for comment.

After Cogle discovered his work was being used without his final consent, he contacted Disney to try to resolve things, the complaint said. At the time of this first contact, Cogle’s work had not yet been registered with the United States Copyright Office.

“The Resident has been syndicated and airs on Hulu, and that’s really at the heart of our claim that copyright is being violated for continuing to show his work without his permission”

— brian robinson

After Cogle’s initial dispute with Disney, which ultimately proved fruitless, he registered his artwork with the United States Copyright Office.

the inhabitant has gone into syndication and is currently airing on Hulu, and that’s really at the heart of our claim that they’re infringing copyright because they’re continuing to show his work without his permission,” Robinson explained.

“Had the artist registered their work with the copyright office before infringement occurred, they would be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees,” said Jane C. Ginsburg, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law at Columbia University, The Daily Beast. “Unfortunately for the artist, although Disney allegedly continues to infringe on his work even after registering it, if they started infringing on his work before he registered it, he’s stuck. The courts are pretty clear that if you register the work that has already been infringed and it is a continuing infringement, you cannot recover statutory damages or attorneys’ fees.”


Steven Cogle describes the current state of some of the art.

Courtesy of Steven Cogle

Plus, battling a company as big as Disney is likely to be an uphill battle. “If all you can get is statutory damages, it almost certainly won’t cost as much as it will cost you to file the case in federal court, and unfortunately most small-scale copyright owners don’t understand this. They should register the work as soon as it’s published, otherwise they simply can’t afford to file a copyright lawsuit,” Ginsburg said. “There’s now a new Copyright Small Claims Board that’s awarding up to $30,000 in damages for plaintiffs who can’t really afford a full-scale copyright lawsuit, but that’s a whole different story.”

Cogle’s original work provided to Hayes Red face and 3 generations is also missing, said Robinson.

Robinson declined to comment on the dollar amount of damages Cogle is seeking.

Walt Disney is no stranger to lawsuits: In August, the company was sued by a consumer rights group over Disney+ price hikes.

In September, the company settled another copyright infringement lawsuit filed in 2017 by writers Arthur Lee Alfred II, E. Ezequiel Martinez Jr., and Tova Laiter, who claimed they presented the original idea for the to Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and that the studio tore down their spec script without mentioning them.

The conditions of pirates Accounts were not disclosed. Artist Steven Cogle is suing Disney for using his images without permission on TV show The Resident

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