Desmond Howard is being sued over the famous photo of himself striking the Heisman pose -- something the 1991 Heisman winner-turned-ESPN commentator doesn't exactly think is right.
In case you're wondering which photo we're talking about: Google image search "Desmond Howard." Google will also helpfully suggest "desmond howard heisman pose." So the image has become more or less synonymous with Howard's name.
The problem is, the photographer, Brian Masck, feels the photo has been used without his permission, Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press reports. Although Masck got $500 at the time when the picture was published in Sports Illustrated, he hasn't authorized much of the commercial use of the photo -- ads for Nissan, Fathead posters, and usage of the photo on Howard's website and in his biography. Masck copyrighted the photo in 2011, and since then, he's seen the 22-year-old photo used in multiple settings for which he received no compensation. As a result, he's suing Howard, as well as a variety of companies and publications that have used the image.
Howard thinks this is silly:
How about this? Someone is suing me... over a picture of me. usat.ly/Yb5PcG— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) March 11, 2013
Unpaid college football players beware. Potential land mines lie 22 years ahead.— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) March 11, 2013
One final note. If a reporter puts in writing that I could not be reached for comment, an effort should've been made to reach me for comment— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) March 11, 2013
Howard does make a good point that it's crazy that someone else complains about not receiving money for a picture of him playing football for free. But it's just as crazy to argue Howard hasn't benefited from the image. The picture became iconic and helped cement his status as a college football great, which no doubt led to his cushy gig on College GameDay. And as Masck points out in the suit, he himself has used the photo to promote his brand.