The spectacle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington during the buildup to 2011’s Super Bowl XLV was Texas-sized: More than 103,000 football fanatics crammed under the retractable roof of the lavish sports palace to watch the Green Bay Packers clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another 3,000 diehards paid $200 each for the privilege of standing outside in frosty winter weather to view the broadcast on a Jumbotron.
According to a lawsuit filed October 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the pageantry also included two “multi-story” images of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made especially for the occasion, with one draped across the exterior of the stadium and the other covering the façade of a major Dallas hotel. David Stluka, the photographer who snapped the original image of Rodgers, says he wasn’t paid a cent for having his work displayed on the gigantic banners, and wasn’t aware of their existence until after the fact.
After 22 seasons on the sidelines, Stluka has witnessed and photographed a number of historic NFL moments, and he’s just one of several accomplished sports photographers to come forward recently with similar grievances.
Thanks to Stluka and his fellow plaintiffs in the lawsuit—a group of veteran sideline photographers, who, together, have covered multiple Super Bowls, supplied images for Madden videogame covers, and generally been the unknown men behind the lens for dozens of iconic photos—the NFL now stands accused of extensive copyright infringement.