Articles Posted in Copyright Infringement

Attorneys for Plaintiff, Marco Verch (“Verch”) of Germany, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana allegingVerch-BlogPhoto-300x89 that Defendant, Toolfarm.com, Inc. (“Toolfarm”) of South Bend, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration No. VA 2-106-766.  Verch is seeking actual damages, profits, income, receipts, or other benefits received by Toolfarm, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, and pre-judgment interest.

According to the complaint, Verch is a professional photographer claiming Toolfarm has reproduced and publicly displayed his copyrighted photograph of traditional Russian wooden dolls (the “Photograph”). Verch claims Toolfarm ran the Photograph on its website without a license, permission, or consent from Verch. As such, Verch is seeking damages for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106, 501, and 504.

This case was filed by Verch’s attorney, Mr. Leibowitz, just six days after he was ordered to personally pay $28,567.50 to a defendant in another case.  In that case, Mr. Leibowitz was found to have engaged in discovery misconduct by failing to identify witnesses as required by Rule 26.  The court stated that Mr. Leibowitz was:

more focused on the business of litigation than on selling a product or service or licensing their copyrights to third parties to sell a product or service. A copyright troll plays a numbers game in which it targets hundreds or thousands of defendants seeking quick settlements priced just low enough that it is less expensive for the defendant to pay the troll rather than defend the claim.

The Court then ordered his client to post a $50,000 bond to continue with the case.  When his client failed to do so, the court dismissed the case.

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Elkhart, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Paul Steeger (“Steeger”) of Germany, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging thatGoodLiving-BlogPhoto-300x143 Defendant, Good Living Enterprises Inc. (“Good Living”) of Elkhart, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration No. VA 2-056-056. Steeger is seeking actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, pre-judgment interest, and any other relief the court deems proper.

Steeger, a professional photographer, claims he is in the business of licensing his photographs for a fee. In this case, Steeger claims he photographed a leaf in water (the “Photograph”) and registered it with the United States Copyright Office. Steeger claims Good Living posted the Photograph on its website without a license, permission, or consent from Steeger. As such, Steeger is seeking damages for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Judge Richard L. Young of the Southern District of Indiana issued a decision on cross-motions for attorneys’ fees and costs in the case of Richard N. Bell (“Bell”) versus Michael Maloney (“Maloney”). The Court first entered judgment in favor of Bell on June 11, 2019 granting him $200 in statutory damages, and costs. Bell sought $33,536,25 in attorney’s fees and $4,719.80 in costs. Maloney made a cross-motion “for leave to file a Bill of Costs totaling $2,183.77 and to enforce the Rule 68 offer. The Court found that the Rule 68 offer should be enforced and Maloney is entitled to the costs he incurred after the offer was rejected.

Bell sent a demand letter to Maloney for $5,000.00 prior to filing this suit. After Bell filed suit, Maloney filed his Answer and then sent Bell an Offer of Judgment pursuant to FRCP 68. This offer was for $2,500.00 for Bell to take judgment against Maloney and would include all attorney’s fees and costs. Bell denied the Rule 68 offer and after the denial of cross-motions for summary judgment, the case went to a bench trial. After the one-day bench trial, the Court found Bell was the prevailing party and was entitled to $200 in statutory damages. Bell filed his motion for fees and costs eleven months after the bench trial occurred.

FRCP 68 provides in part, “[i]f the judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the offer was made.” The court in Payne v. Milwaukee Cty., 288 F.3d 1021, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002), found that “Rule 68 is designed to provide a disincentive for plaintiffs from continuing to litigate a case after being presented with a reasonable offer.” In determining if a final judgment obtained is less favorable than a Rule 68 offer, “the attorney’s fees and costs that accrued before the offer must be added to the judgment.” Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, 700 F.Supp. 832, 836 (E.D. PA. 1988).

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FBlogPhoto-300x199ort Wayne, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Design Basics, LLC and W.L. Martin Home Designs, LLC, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Heller & Sons, Inc. d/b/a Heller Homes and Heller Development Corporation, infringed numerous copyright registrations. The Court granted the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment on June 24, 2019. Design Basics filed its Notice of Appeal on July 19, 2019. Although Design Basics had filed its Notice of Appeal, Defendants submitted their Petition for Attorney Fees and Costs and were awarded $310,759.34.

According to the Opinion and Order dated September 3, 2019, the “Court invited Defendants to file a request for attorneys’ fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505, and further invited Design Basics to file a response in opposition.” The Court cites an exception from general rules of jurisdiction following a filing of a notice of appeal from Terket v. Lund, 623 F.2d 29, 33-34, in which a district court may enter an award for attorneys’ fees while the merits of the case are on appeal. In this case, Defendants submitted their Petition for Attorney Fees and Costs and Design Basics submitted its response in opposition.

District courts consider at least four different factors listed in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517, 534 n. 19 (1994) when determining whether to award attorneys’ fees, including: “(1) frivolity of the claim; (2) motivation in filing the claim; (3) objective reasonableness of the claim; and (4) considerations of compensation and deterrence.” Here, the Court found that while the Defendants argued the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Design Basics, LLC v. Lexington Homes, Inc., 858 F.3d 1093 (7th Cir. 2017) rendered all copyright cases filed by Design Basics frivolous, Design Basics may still recover on copyright infringement claims although it may be difficult. When analyzing Design Basics’ motivation for filing its infringement claims, the Court noted that Design Basics “realized approximately $5 million in net litigation profits in 2016 and 2017 alone, while the gross revenues for Design Basics during the same period of time were approximately $2.5 million.” Based off this finding, among others, the Court believes that this case, and most infringement cases filed by Design Basics, are filed due to a financial motive.

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TAOD-BlogPhoto-300x124South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, The Art of Design, Inc. (“TAOD”) of Elkhart, Indiana, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Sharpline Converting, Inc. (“Sharpline”) of Wichita, Kansas, infringed its rights in United States Copyright Registration Nos. VA 1-979-388 and 2-149-309 (the “‘388 Design”) and VA 1-982-002 and 2-149-316 (the “‘002 Design”). TAOD is seeking judgment, actual damages, profits, and any further relief as the Court deems proper.

TAOD claims it is a highly respected and successful business engaged in custom airbrushing and the designing of fine art. According to the complaint, TAOD employs very talented individuals who create original two-dimensional designs (the “TAOD Designs”) that are applied to boats, RVs, airplanes, cars, and helicopters. TAOD claims the TAOD Designs are copyrightable and that it owns all right, title, and interest in the TAOD Designs. The ‘388 Design and ‘002 Design are both designs known as the “Shatter Graphics”.

Per the complaint, Sharpline designs and manufactures vinyl graphics for a diverse market, including the marine industry. Sharpline allegedly sells vinyl graphic image products to Pontoon Boat, LLC, doing business as, Bennington and Bennington Marine (“Bennington”). According to the complaint, Bennington provided Sharpline with unauthorized copies of the Shatter Graphics in 2012, which Sharpline then copied, created a vinyl graphic product, and distributed to Bennington for application on Bennington’s boats and boat motors. TAOD claims one of the images provided to Sharpline from Bennington was a photograph of one of Bennington’s boats painted by TAOD with the Shatter Graphics. TAOD alleges Sharpline has reproduced, copied, and distributed unauthorized copies of the TAOD Designs and as such is seeking damages for copyright infringement and inducing copyright infringement.

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South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Vincent A. Ambrosetti, individually and as Trustee of TheAmbrosetti-BlogPhoto King’s Ministrels Charitable Trust aka International Liturgy Publications (“ILP”), filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Oregon Catholic Press (“OCP”) of Portland, Oregon, and Bernadette Farrell, both allegedly doing business in the State of Indiana, infringed the rights in United States Copyright Registration No. PA0000525379 for the songbook “I Will Sing”. Ambrosetti is seeking injunctive relief, statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees.

According to the Complaint, Ambrosetti is the author and copyright owner of the song book “I Will Sing” and the trustee of ILP, another copyright claimant in this case. OCP allegedly acquires music licenses and sells and distributes music throughout the United States. Farrell, a citizen of the United Kingdom, also allegedly sells and distributes music throughout the United States.

Ambrosetti claims the musical work “Emmanuel” is a part of the “I Will Sing” songbook and that he applied for copyright registration for the individual work “Emmanuel” on August 12, 2019, which is still pending. “Emmanuel” was allegedly first published in 1980 in a song book entitled “Singing Holy”. The song was recorded five years later with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London and performed at multiple national conventions.

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Indianapolis, Indiana –Plaintiff and Attorney Richard N. Bell of McCordsville, Indiana filed suit in theBell-v-Powell-BlogPhoto-300x63 Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, David N. Powell and Midwest Regional Network for Intervention with Sex Offenders (“MRNISO”), infringed his rights in his copywritten photograph. In this case, the Court was faced with cross-motions for summary judgment, which it ruled in favor of the Defendants. After being granted summary judgment, the Defendants filed their separate Motions for Attorney Fees and Bill of Costs. While Powell’s motion was denied as moot, MRNISO’s motion was granted.

Bell, in his motion for summary judgment asserted that he was owed for damages caused by the Defendants for their unauthorized use of his photograph. However, Powell asserted Eleventh Amendment immunity against Bell’s claims and MRNISO claimed it was protected by the fair use doctrine. The Court agreed with both Powell and MRNISO and granted them summary judgment.

Following the final entry of judgment against Bell, Powell and MRNISO each filed a separate motion for attorney fees. According to the Court, Bell filed a “Report of Settlement Between Powell and Bell” and requested all deadlines for Powell’s motion be stayed. Powell did not file a response to the Report of Settlement and thus the dates were vacated by the Court. Powell’s motion was denied by the Court without prejudice leaving Powell the opportunity to refile his motion if the settlement was not able to be finalized.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Dr. Keith F. Bell (“Dr. Bell”) of Travis County, Texas, filed suitBCSC-BlogPhoto-300x25 in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (“Bartholomew”) of Columbus, Indiana and Timothy Bless (“Bless”) of Bartholomew County, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration Nos. TX 2,672,644 (the “‘644 Registration”) for “Winning Isn’t Normal” and TX 8,503,571 (the “‘571 Registration”) for “WIN Passage”. Dr. Bell is seeking actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other relief the court deems proper.

Dr. Bell claims he has worked as an internationally recognized sports psychologist with over 500 athletic teams including Olympic and national teams for seven different countries. Per the complaint, Dr. Bell also participates as a speaker for coaching symposia both at the national and international level. Dr. Bell’s work also allegedly includes ten books and eighty articles he authored and published relating to sports performance and sports psychology.

According to the complaint, Dr. Bell wrote the book Winning Isn’t Normal in 1981 which included a particular passage Dr. Bell entitled the “WIN Passage” (the “Infringed Works”). After the publishing of the book in 1982, Dr. Bell allegedly registered Winning Isn’t Normal and the WIN Passage with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1989 and 2017, respectively. Dr. Bell claims he has spent substantial time and effort promoting and selling copies of Winning Isn’t Normal and continues to sell it through various websites and outlets while also offering licenses for those that wish to publish the WIN Passage or use it in any way.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Allan Tannenbaum of New York, New York, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, The2Connect, LLC of Elkhart, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration No. VA 123-967.  Tannenbaum is seeking actual damages, statutory damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, prejudgment interest, and any further relief that the Court deems proper.

Tannenbaum claims he is a professional photographer that licenses his photographs to online and print media sources for a fee. The photograph at issue in this case, is one that Tannenbaum allegedly took of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (the “Photograph”).

Roadtrippers-blogphoto-300x66

According to the complaint, The2Connect operates a website with the URL: https://maps.roadtrippers.com (the “Website”). Tannenbaum claims The2Connect utilized his Photograph in connection with an article entitled Rock and Roll Deaths Tour: Top 12 Dearly Departed Rockers on the Website without Tannenbaum’s permission. As such, Tannenbaum is suing The2Connect for copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501 and seeking damages pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(b) or (c). Tannenbaum is also seeking attorneys’ fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505.

The plaintiff Tannenbaum is represented by Richard Liebowitz of Valley Stream, New York.  Mr. Liebowitz frequently files copyright infringement lawsuits, and has the dubious distinction of being frequently sanctioned.  In an order dated July 10, 2019 in the case of Rice v. NBCUniversal Media LLC, Judge Furman imposed another sanction against Mr. Liebowitz and his firm for $8745.50 due to his failure to comply with court orders relating to a mediation and requiring his appearance in court.  That order begins with this:

In his relatively short career litigating in this District, Richard Liebowitz has earned the dubious distinction of being a regular target of sanctions-related motions and orders. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that there is a growing body of law in this District devoted to the question of whether and when to impose sanctions on Mr. Liebowitz alone.
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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Broadcast Music, Inc. of New York, New York, UniversalBMI2 Millhouse Music, Combine Music Corp., Rondor Music International, Inc. d/b/a Irving Music, Dandelion Music Co., Groper Music, Rhythm Wrangler Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., Get Loose Music, Inc., Tremonti Stapp Music, Reservoir Media Management Inc. d/b/a Reservoir 416 a/k/a Reservoir One America, Barbara Nicks Music, and Concord Music Group, Inc. d/b/a Jondora Music filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Dman Incorporated d/b/a The Grove Sports Bar & Eatery, James D. Pettigrew, and Deann Hensley all of Beech Grove, Indiana infringed its rights in many United States Copyright Registrations of musical compositions as stated below.

Musical Composition

Registration and Date of Registration
Beat It PAu 456-334, PA 158-771, November 16, 1982, December 27, 1982
Don’t Tell My Heart a/k/a Achy Breaky Heart PA 534-864, July 29, 1991
Me and Bobby McGee Ep 260746, July 18, 1969
Seven Bridges Road Eu 106284, PA 104-190, March 21, 1969, April 13, 1981
She’s Some Kind of Wonderful a/k/a Some Kind of Wonderful Ep 232189, June 5, 1967
Trashy Women PAu 1 150 124, October 17, 1988
What’s Your Name Eu 853395, PA 13-433, December 7, 1977, July 3, 1978
My Own Prison PA 966-903, October 4, 1999
Silver Springs RE 905-601, Eu 713078, December 10, 2004, August 31, 1976
Proud Mary EU 91333, Ep 260526, December 27, 1968, July 11, 1969
Paradise Eu 785460, PA 13-430, May 13, 1977, September 18, 1978

Plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages, cost, attorneys’ fees, and any other relief the Court deems appropriate.

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