Intellectual Property

DA settles suit over 'some silly picture' uploaded to his Twitter account

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Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has settled a suit claiming he pilfered an online photo and used it as the background on his Twitter account.

Williams settled with photographer R. Bradley Maule of, who had claimed copyright infringement in a suit filed last August. The Philadelphia Daily News has news of the settlement and details of Dec. 30 depositions in the case.

An employee testified she found the photo with a Google search for “Philadelphia skyline” during her lunch break and uploaded it to Williams’ Twitter account. In an earlier story, Maule said that the photo was identifiable as his because it contained a rendering of a building that had not yet been built. Williams disputed that the photo had been Maule’s, but later had it removed.

In his deposition Williams portrayed himself as the victim in the “photo caper,” the story says.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of human nature that there are people who prey on elected officials, people that they think are trying to do good,” Williams said. He also alleged that Maule’s lawyer, J. Conor Corcoran, tried to “shake me down over some silly picture.”

Corcoran later emailed Williams’ lawyer, suggesting that using a city employee “for his own personal political pursuits” on Twitter could pose a legal problem, the story says. Williams’ lawyer responded in an email that the “baseless and extortionate threats” appeared to be an “effort to strong-arm a settlement.” Williams’ lawyer said in the reply email that the “groundless threats” had been reported to the state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to the story.

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