[JURIST] A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Associated Press [media website] by several Navy SEALs and the wife of a US special forces member claiming that the wire service published photos [AP gallery from Spain's El Mundo] of the servicemembers with Iraqi prisoners without permission and that the publication of the photos endangered the servicemembers' lives. AP ran the photos with a December 3 story [reprint] after a reporter scanning for images on Google [Google image search] discovered them on SmugMug.com, an online digital photo sharing website. He paid 29 cents each for reprints. They appear to show servicemembers sitting on hooded prisoners and bloodied prisoners, one of whom has a gun to his head. The woman who took the photos appears to have thought - incorrectly - that the photos were password-protected. The photos were never formally registered for copyright protection, but lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that under federal law no such registration is necessary, and that AP was infringing the photographer's rights in using and redistributing her photos without permission. AP has responded by saying that the distribution of the photos was in the public interest and that they were not obtained illegally. The federal court action follows a California state court proceeding launched in late December [JURIST report]. AP has more. San Diego CityBeat has a background report.