Articles Posted in Copyright Infringement

Picture1On January 12, 2024, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in the matter of UIRC-GSA Holdings v. William Blair, upheld a district court’s ruling to award summary judgment and attorneys’ fees in favor of Blair. The issue revolved around copyright infringement claims brought by UIRC-GSA Holdings against William Blair, a financial services company. UIRC-GSA Holdings (hereafter referred to as UIRC) alleged that Blair copied certain documents used in bond offerings, which UIRC claimed copyright protection over. Blair prevailed at summary judgment, and the district court awarded attorneys’ fees under the Copyright Act.  UIRC appealed, arguing that the district court erred in ruling that UIRC lacked the requisite originality for valid copyrights in the documents and in awarding fees to Blair.

The case involved UIRC, a company managing properties leased to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), seeking capital by pooling GSA properties and offering bonds. UIRC produced key documents for this process, including a private placement memorandum (PPM) and an indenture of trust, largely adapted from documents by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, with the addition of some new language. The legal issue concerned the originality and copyrightability of UIRC’s documents, as copyright law requires works to be independently created with some degree of creativity to qualify for protection.

The district court ruled in favor of Blair, finding that UIRC’s documents lacked the necessary originality for copyright protection. The court noted that UIRC had extensively copied language from documents prepared by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. Additionally, the court found that the new text added by UIRC consisted primarily of facts, fragmented phrases, or language dictated by functional considerations, which are not eligible for copyright protection.

Kat-297x300In a courtroom showdown that has captivated both the art and legal worlds, celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D emerged victorious in a copyright lawsuit brought against her by photographer Jeffrey Sedlik. The case, which centered on Von D’s use of Sedlik’s portrait of jazz legend Miles Davis as the basis for a tattoo she inked on a friend’s arm, has been closely followed by industry insiders and fans alike.

The verdict, delivered by a Los Angeles jury after just over two hours of deliberation, was a resounding win for Von D and the broader tattoo artist community. The jury found that Von D’s tattoo, drawing, and social media posts based on Sedlik’s portrait constituted fair use of the copyrighted work, effectively dismissing the photographer’s claims of infringement.

For Von D, the decision marked the end of a two-year legal ordeal. “I’m obviously very happy for this to be over,” she said, acknowledging the toll the lawsuit had taken on her and her fellow tattoo artists. The outcome was met with similar relief and excitement among supporters who had stood by her throughout the trial.

China – Plaintiff Guangzhou Shima Decoration Materials Co., Ltd. (Shima), a Chinese corporation specializing in home improvement items and building materials, has brought legal action against Shenzhen Ruimingxiang Technology Co., Ltd. (SRT) for alleged copyright infringement.

Shima, led by President Wentong Liu, claims it has carved a niche in designing and selling distinctive products. It goes onto explain that in 2004, Liu created a graphic work known as the “Diamond Tile,” a unique square or rectangular tile featuring a three-dimensional design composed of various diamond-like elements, which he had copyrighted with the United States Copyright Office in 2017.

According to the complaint, Shima is accusing SRT, another Chinese corporation (who happens to do business in Indiana), of importing, distributing, and/or selling copies of Liu’s “Diamond Tile” work on Shima alleges that SRT’s actions amount to willful infringement, resulting in substantial financial losses.

In a recent legal action, photographer Ivan Radic has filed suit against AllCity Adjusting LLC and Zor Development LLC for allegedly infringing upon his intellectual property rights. According to Radic, he is a seasoned professional photographer known for his diverse portfolio and creative styles.  He has accused the defendants of unauthorized use and distribution of his copyrighted work.

The complaint explains that the heart of the matter lies in Radic’s creation, a photograph titled “Plaster falling off the ceiling,” crafted in 2020 and officially registered under copyright law in 2021. Radic claims this work, publicly displayed on his Flickr page, was accompanied by explicit copyright management information and a denial of usage rights to the public.

Court documents state that Defendant AllCity Adjusting LLC, is a family-owned claims company aiding property owners in insurance claims and disaster relief.  Radic has accused AllCity and Zor Development LLC, the registrant of AllCity’s website, of copying and showcasing his work on their website’s blog section without Radic’s consent. Moreover, the defendants allegedly removed Radic’s copyright management information, in what he claims is a clear violation of his rights under the Copyright Act.

In the contempoSpaceJam-209x300rary digital landscape, the protection of intellectual property, especially in the realm of creative works, has become a paramount concern. Copyright infringement, the unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted material, continues to pose significant challenges for creators and rights holders. A recent case involving Plaintiff Watson Music Group, LLC. d/b/a Quadrasound Music and Defendant Borshoff, Inc. sheds light on the complexities and legalities surrounding copyright infringement in the digital sphere.

Plaintiff Watson Music Group, a Florida-based limited liability company, alleges that Defendant Borshoff, Inc., an Indiana corporation, infringed upon its copyrighted musical work titled “Space Jam.” The alleged infringement occurred on Defendant’s social media account ‘@borshofftalks’ hosted on Facebook.

The complaint describes an unauthorized posting of a discernable excerpt of the Plaintiff’s copyrighted musical work on the Defendant’s Facebook account. The Plaintiff asserts that the Defendant, without obtaining proper permission or authorization, reproduced, stored, and made available the copyrighted material for public performance via a digital audio transmission, thereby violating the Plaintiff’s exclusive rights as a copyright holder.

Photo-300x179Plaintiff Shoichi Matsumoto has sued Defendant Pho Real LLC, alleging copyright infringement of Matsumoto’s original work, a photograph titled “Yakisoba-4”. Matsumoto, a private chef, TV host, and photographer, claims that Pho Real used his copyrighted work without permission on their website and on a food ordering platform, Grubhub Inc., to promote its restaurant business. Matsumoto asserts that he owns the copyright to the image and had not licensed or authorized Pho Real to use it.

The complaint specifies that Matsumoto registered the work with the Copyright Office and that Pho Real’s actions of copying, displaying, and distributing the photograph were unauthorized and willful. Matsumoto alleges that he suffered irreparable harm due to Pho Real’s actions and seeks damages, including Pho Real’s profits from the infringement or statutory damages, along with legal fees and costs. Additionally, Matsumoto requests a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Pho Real from further infringing on his copyright.

The case has been assigned to Judge Sarah Evans Barker and Magistrate Judge Kellie M. Barr, in the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana, and assigned Case No. 1:23-cv-02059-SEB-KMB.

A recent lawsuit, Stross v. Tiny Timbers, involves a copyright infringement dispute between Alexander Bayonne Stross, a photographer and owner of copyrighted works, and Homestead Properties, Inc. dba Tiny Timbers, a hardwood products manufacturer. Stross alleges that Tiny Timbers unlawfully used his copyrighted photograph for advertising and promotional purposes on Homestead Properties’ website without his authorization.Pic-300x197

Stross has filed a complaint against Tiny Timbers citing violations of the Copyright Act, specifically alleging unauthorized copying, distribution, and removal of copyright identification. He asserts that his work was registered with the Copyright Office and contains identifiable copyright management information, which was removed by Tiny Timbers when they allegedly used the image without permission.

Seeking recourse, Stross pursues both injunctive relief to prevent further infringement claims and monetary damages or profits resulting from the alleged unauthorized use of his copyrighted work. Additionally, he requests attorney’s fees and other remedies provided for under the Copyright Act.

Photo-300x150Photojournalist David Hoffman, a UK resident, is suing Lauth Investigations International, an Indiana investigation firm, for allegedly infringing on a 2005 copyrighted photograph titled “Homeless Woman 1.” According to the Plaintiff, Lauth used the photo in an article without permission, cropping it and removing copyright information for commercial use. Despite Hoffman’s notification, no resolution was reached.

Hoffman seeks various remedies for copyright infringement, including a declaration of infringement, claims of willful infringement, compensation for damages, legal fees, and interest. The aim is to prevent further infringement and related activities by the Defendant.

The case has been assigned to Judge James Patrick Hanlon and Magistrate Judge M. Kendra Klump, in the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana, and assigned Case No. 1:23-cv-01678-JPH-MKK.

Prairieville, LA – Plaintiff Taylor Shaye Designs LLC filed a complaint against Whitestown, IN Defendant Shein Distribution Corp for copyright infringement according to the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq.


“Let’s Go Girls” – Taylor Shaye Designs LLC


Let’s Go Girls – Shein Distribution Corp

New Jersey – Plaintiff Christopher Sadowski is suing Defendant Restoration 1 By J&D, LLC, of New Palestine, Indiana, over violation of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 501, for allegedly reproducing, distributing, and publicly displaying Sadowski’s intellectual property for its own commercial purposes.

Photographer-300x200According to the claim, Sadowski is an award-winning photojournalist with 19 years of experience in documenting ordinary life and the human condition through photography. His work has been commissioned in magazines and newspapers such as the New York Post, Daily Mail Online, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, New York Times, Fox News, CBS News, NBC News, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek Magazine, and People Magazine.  The complaint states that while the Plaintiff does sell limited, one-time use licenses to customers, he always retains copyright ownership of the photographs.

The suit accuses Restoration 1, a property damage restoration company, of using Sadowski’s photograph of Christmas lights on the Restoration 1 website without the proper licensing or permission to do so.  The Plaintiff claims that the Defendant has never been licensed to use the photograph and upon learning of its unauthorized use, the Defendant has not been willing to negotiate a reasonable license for it. Furthermore, the complaint states that Restoration 1 displays a copyright disclaimer (“Copyright © 2017”) on the page of the website that contains the photo, allegedly asserting that Restoration 1 owns the rights to everything on the webpage, including the photo in question.

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