A Philadelphia photographer says Anheuser-Busch stole his copyright picture of the Philadelphia skyline and used it to create neon Budweiser beer signs that began appearing around the city during Pope Francis' visit in 2015, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court.
R. Bradley Maule, creator of the website Phillyskyline.com, is seeking $1 million in damages and demanding that Anheuser-Busch nip its use of his artwork in the Bud, according to the suit.
Maule's attorney, Conor Corcoran, said the case was "rife" with evidence, the biggest piece of which is that Maule altered his skyline photograph, taken in 2005, to include projected renditions of two buildings that were expected to be completed by 2008 – the Comcast Center and Mandeville Place.
The Budweiser signs include both buildings despite the fact that Mandeville Place was never built and is "a completely nonexistent building, " Corcoran said.
He said Maule was walking around the city during the papal visit Sept. 27, 2015, when he first noticed that his altered skyline was used in a neon Budweiser sign at the Spruce Street Market.
"The good Lord saw fit to reveal to our Bradley that Anheuser-Busch was multiplying his art, like so many loaves and fishes, for the purpose of peddling its lukewarm holy water," Corcoran said.
When Maule checked the back of the sign, he found a "fraudulent copyright notice" on it, the suit alleges.
At least 20 of the Bud signs were hung around the city at places such as Nick's Roast Beef and the Castle Roxx bar, but Maule believes there are "far more," according to the suit.
Maule contends that Anheuser-Busch never contacted him for permission to use his photograph, which he copyrighted in 2008.
This is not the first time Maule has filed a lawsuit contending his artwork has been used without his permission. In 2013, he filed a federal lawsuit against District Attorney Seth Williams, claiming that Williams used one of his skyline photographs as the background for his Twitter account.
Williams settled the lawsuit out of court in June 2014.
"Bradley's work is often stolen because it's good," Corcoran said. "But this is the biggest problem we've had so far, because of how pervasive and repeated it's been."