Michigan

Desmond Howard And Photographer Brian Masck Reach Settlement In Litigation Over Iconic “Heisman Pose” Photo

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(Detroit, Michigan, April 1, 2014) – Desmond Howard, 1991 Heisman Trophy Winner from the University of Michigan, and professional photographer Brian Masck have reached a settlement of their respective claims against each other over copyright, publicity rights and other related issues involving what has become known in some instances as the “Heisman Pose” photo.

In November 1991, Masck, a freelance photographer, photographed Howard in the end zone at Michigan Stadium after the wide receiver returned a punt 93 yards against Michigan rival, Ohio State. As Howard briefly recreated the stance found on the prestigious Heisman Trophy he would go on to win the following month, Masck snapped a photo that would become an iconic image.

Howard went on to play in the NFL where he was named Super Bowl XXXI MVP as a Green Bay Packer. He is one of only four players to win both the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP. Howard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and is currently a college football analyst for ESPN where has been a member of the popular College GameDay crew for the past 9 years, earning three Sports Emmys.

Masck, now a multimedia consultant, is a past president of the Michigan Press Photographers Association (MPPA). He was named Michigan Photographer of the Year and Michigan Photo Editor of the Year by the MPPA during his newspaper career. His sports photography was published in newspapers throughout the country and is on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The “Heisman Pose” photograph has gained considerable notoriety over the past twenty-three years, becoming one of the most recognizable images of college football history.

With the settlement, Howard and Masck will dismiss their respective claims against each other. In addition, Masck will transfer and assign the copyright in the “Heisman Pose” photograph to Howard. This agreement makes Desmond Howard the sole copyright holder of a valuable sports image bearing his own likeness – an unusual arrangement for any former collegiate or professional athlete – and will allow Howard and Masck to both benefit from the commercial use of the photo.

Masck’s claims against the other defendants named in Brian Masck v. Sports Illustrated, et al., are still pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Howard was represented in the settlement by Rich Hewlett and Matt Bower of Varnum Law. Masck is represented by Tom Blaske of Blaske & Blaske, P.L.C.

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