The Western District of Wisconsin’s federal Court acquitted State Street’s Sconnie Nation Friday of a copyright infringement accusation a local photojournalist brought against the clothing company in 2012 regarding the use of a picture of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, according to a press release.
Sconnie Nation produced a T-shirt in 2012 that showcased photographer Michael Kienitz’s portrait of Soglin overlaid with the text “Sorry for Partying” to “poke fun at the Mayor’s flip-flopping views relating to the Mifflin Street Block Party,” Sconnie Nation co-founder and co-owner Troy Vosseller said in the release.
Kienitz responded with a lawsuit, claiming at the time that although Sconnie Nation took the photo from the public city of Madison website, the copyright notice embedded in the digital file proved it belonged to Kienitz and he had not granted the apparel store reproduction rights.
Judge Stephen Crocker ruled in favor of the local retailers, determining Sconnie Nation’s use of the photo “for the purposes of political and social commentary” was “fair use,” according to the release.
Vosseller called the verdict a “win for free speech.”