Articles Posted in Copyright Infringement

South Bend, Indiana – Savanna Campbell (“Campbell”), the Plaintiff, claims to have taken a photograph inside a Walmart of the child car seat section (the “Photograph”). Campbell apparently registered the Photograph with the U.S. Copyright Office and given Copyright Registration No. VA 2-204-282.

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According to the Complaint, Defendant Gray Television (“Gray”) used the Photograph on a television program and then on its website in an article entitled “Fact Check: Does Michigan’s stay-at-home order ban purchase of child safety seats?”. Campbell claims Gray did not have a license, her permission, or consent to use the Photograph in its television program or on its website. Therefore, Campbell is seeking damages for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 504 and 505. Continue reading

Indianapolis, IndianaJeremy Meier d/b/a Meier Photography (“Meier”), the Plaintiff, claims to be a professional photographer and owner of U.S. Copyright Registration No. VAu 1-381-446 which includes 380 photographs taken in the Spring of 2019 (the “Registered Photos”). According to the Complaint, Kelley Global Brands, LLC d/b/a KLH Audio (“KLH”), the Defendant, manufactures and sells audio equipment. Meier claims KLH used and published some of the Registered Photos without paying for the use and without the authorized consent of Meier resulting in copyright infringement.

However, the Complaint further states, that Meier and KLH “entered into an agreement pursuant to which Plaintiff agreed to take certain photos in exchange for Defendant paying for the rights to use said photos (the ‘Agreement’).” This may create an issue over whether the copyright infringement can be maintained. If KLH obtained “rights to use the Photos,” it may have a valid defense of “license.”

A similar issue was raised in the famous case known as the “exploding yogurt factory case.”

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U.S. Supreme Court–Frederick Allen (“Allen”) was hired as a videographer to document the recovery of the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck off the North Carolina coast. Allen worked to document the recovery for over a decade and registered copyrights for his works. When North Carolina published some of Allen’s work online, Allen sued for copyright infringement. North Carolina moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the ground of state sovereign immunity; while Allen argued the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (“CRCA”) removed the States’ sovereign immunity.

The District Court agreed with Allen while the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of North Carolina on March 23, 2020.

Sovereign immunity has recently been the basis for granting summary judgment in several recent copyright cases in the Southern District of Indiana, namely at least Richard N. Bell v. Jay L. Hess, Case No. 1:16-cv-02463-TWP-DML, (S.D. Ind. March 9, 2018) and Richard N. Bell v. Jason Henderson, Case No. 1:16-cv-02488-RLY-DML, (S.D. Ind. July 23, 2018).

Lafayette, Indiana – Aaron Babcock (“Babcock”), the Plaintiff, claims to be a professional photographer in Lincoln, Nebraska. According to the complaint, Babcock photographed actor Bill Murray attending a Nebraska vs. Purdue football game (the “Photograph”). The Photograph was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Registration No. VA 2-126-687.

In the second of two lawsuits with identical parties, Babcock claims Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC (“Gannett”), the Defendant, ran four articles on its websites featuring the Photograph. Babcock first sued Gannett for copyright infringement of a different photograph in December 2019 in the Western District of Wisconsin. In this case, Gannett allegedly used the Photograph without a license or permission from Babcock. As such, Babcock is seeking damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees for copyright infringement.

The case was assigned to Chief District Judge Theresa Lazar Springmann and Magistrate Judge Joshua P. Kolar in the Northern District and assigned Case 4:20-cv-00023-TLS-JPK.

Lafayette, Indiana – Professional photographer and Plaintiff, Bryan Glynn, managing member of BG Pictures LLC, claims Defendant Cigar Cigar LLC (“Cigar Cigar”) displayed his photograph protected by U.S. Copyright No. VAu 1-271-409  on its website without his consent. Glynn claims Cigar Cigar’s actions amount to copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 504 and 505, Glynn is seeking Cigar Cigar’s profits from the use of the photograph, statutory damages, and attorney’s fees.

The case was assigned to District Judge Theresa L. Springmann and Magistrate Judge Joshua P. Kolar in the Northern District and assigned Case 4:20-cv-00022.

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South Bend, Indiana – Real Clear Holdings LLC (“RCH”), the Defendant, is alleged to have copied Plaintiff Christopher Sadowski’s photograph of Mayor Bill de Blasio (the “Photograph”) without a license or authorization. Sadowski claims to be a professional photographer and owner of U.S. Copyright No. VA 2-175-419 for the Photograph. According to the Complaint, Sadowski licensed the Photograph to the New York Post who posted the Photograph with Sadowski’s name in an article on its website on July 25, 2019.

RCH allegedly took the Photograph from the New York Post’s website and used the Photograph on RCH’s website www.realclearmarkets.com/ in an article posted on September 9, 2019. Sadowski claims RCH did not license the Photograph from him and did not have his permission to utilize the Photograph. He further claims RCH removed the copyright management information identifying Sadowski as the photographer as shown on the New York Post’s website and instead credited “YouTube”. Therefore, he is seeking damages for copyright infringement and removal and alteration of copyright management information.

The case was assigned to District Judge Damon R. Leichty and Magistrate Judge Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. in the Northern District and assigned Case 3:20-cv-00215-DRL-MGG.

South Bend, Indiana – Kevin Jairaj (“Jairaj”), the Plaintiff, claims to be a professional photographer in the business of licensing his photographs including one of Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney (the “Photograph”). Jairaj claims to have registered the Photograph with the U.S. Copyright Office and granted Copyright Registration No. VA 2-112-984. According to the Complaint, Defendant Gray Television ran multiple articles on its websites regarding the alleged sexual abuse of McKayla Maroney featuring the Photograph without a license. Jairaj is seeking damages and statutory relief for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501 and intentionally removing copyright management information pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 1202.

The case was assigned to District Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr., and Magistrate Judge Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. in the Northern District and assigned Case 3:20-cv-00156-RLM-MGG.

Complaint

Fort Wayne, Indiana – George Matula (“Matula”), the Plaintiff, claims to be a professional photographer in the business of licensing his photographs for a fee. Matula allegedly photographed a horse and registered the photograph as U.S. Copyright No. VA 2-154-421 (the “Photograph”) in 2018. According to the Complaint, Defendant Triple H Magazine ran the Photograph in its publication without licensing the Photograph from Matula in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act. Therefore, Matula is seeking damages for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(b).

The case was assigned to District Judge Holly A. Brady and Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins in the Northern District and assigned Case 1:20-cv-00071-HAB-SLC.

Complaint

Fort Wayne, IndianaShield Exteriors, Inc. (“Shield Exteriors”) filed an infringement suit against five Defendants regarding its U.S. Copyright No. VA 2-174-290 (the “‘290 Registration”) and its “SHIELD EXTERIORS” word mark and logo (the “Shield Marks”) in the Northern District of Indiana. According to the Complaint, the ‘290 Registration protects eight photographs of roof installations completed by Shield Exteriors. Shield Exteriors claims it has used the Shield Marks in connection with roofing services since as early as 2015.

Defendant Roof Genius Pro (“Roof Genius”) allegedly owns and operates two different websites that display the Shield Marks and seven of the eight photographs protected by the ‘290 Registration. According to the Complaint, Roof Genius advertised for Defendant 4Ever Metal Roofing, LLC (“4Ever Metal”) via a video advertisement posted on Facebook that included photographs of metal roofs installed by Shield Exteriors. The link posted with that advertisement redirects viewers to a website hosted by Defendant Local2Online, which displays the name and logo of 4Ever Metal and solicits customer information utilizing photographs protected by the ‘290 Registration. The other two named Defendants, sued in their individual capacities, are the owner of Roof Genius and Local 2Online, John Estabrook, and the owner of 4Ever Metal, Travis Sliger.

The case was assigned to District Judge Holly A. Brady and Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins in the Northern District and assigned Case 1:20-cv-00064-HAB-SLC.

District of Oregon – Richard Bell, a well-known copyright infringement litigant, has filed over 100 lawsuits regarding infringement of U.S. Copyright No. VA0001785115 (the “Indianapolis Photo”). However, in September 2019, a federal jury in Bell v. Carmen Commercial Real Estate Servs. found that Bell was unable to prove that he actually owned the Indianapolis Photo. Case No. 1:16-cv-01174-JRS-MPB, (S.D. Ind. Sept. 26, 2019). Being that the first element in a copyright infringement claim is to prove ownership of a valid copyright, it appeared that the jury’s decision would put an end to future litigation for Bell.

In the present case, Bell, sought a default judgment against Michael J. Davis and three other Defendants for allegedly infringing his rights in the Indianapolis Photo in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. After the Defendants failed to appear or respond to the Complaint, the Magistrate Judge issued an entry of default against all of the Defendants. Bell then filed a motion for an entry of default judgment to be entered along with an award of $150,000 in statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and injunctive relief.

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