Footwear maker Nike Inc. didn’t infringe a photograph copyright by recreating an image of Michael Jordan to make its Jumpman logo for Air Jordan sneakers, a federal appeals court ruled Feb. 27.

Photographer Jacobus Rentmeester did have a protectable copyright interest in his picture of the leaping basketball star, but that protection didn’t cover the pose itself, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled. The Nike logo is a solid black silhouette that is materially different from the plaintiff’s photo, the court said.

The decision illustrates the limitations in a creator’s rights in an image. Copying...