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Charleston photographer who was sued by College of Charleston Foundation defends right to display photograph

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DON'T REUSE, except with legal story - Ben Ham photo (copy)

"Plantation Road" by Charleston photographer Ben Ham, which was taken several years ago at Dixie Plantation, is the center of a lawsuit by the College of Charleston Foundation, which owns the property. Provided

A local photographer says he did nothing wrong displaying a photograph he took on private land owned by the College of Charleston Foundation.

Nature photographer Ben Ham was sued by the foundation in March over a photograph he took of an avenue of oaks at Dixie Plantation. The foundation owns the 862-acre private reserve on the Stono River in Hollywood. An easement forbids any commercial activity on the land.

The complaint alleges that Ham violated a previous lawsuit settlement by submitting the photograph, called "Plantation Road," to a magazine for an article on his work and by displaying it on his website. The photograph was published in the winter 2014 issue of Charleston Style & Design Magazine. The complaint alleges displaying the photograph was for Ham's "personal gain" and violated the settlement agreement.

In a response filed Monday, Ham's attorney said he did not violate the agreement because he was not selling the image and received no compensation from the magazine. He also said Ham makes it clear on his website that the photograph is no longer for sale.

The foundation first sued Ham in 2007 over photos he took at Dixie Plantation. A settlement agreement allowed the photographer to sell limited-edition prints until Nov. 10, 2013, on the condition he pay the foundation $30,000.

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