Indiana Copyright Litigation: Photographer Sues Theater and Publisher for Copyright Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana – Larry G. Philpot, a professional photographer from Indianapolis, Indiana, filed two new Indiana copyright infringement lawsuits in the Southern District of Indiana. These lawsuits are in addition to another intellectual property lawsuit filed by Philpot recently.

On October 4, 2009, Plaintiff Philpot photographed Willie Nelson during a performance in St. Louis, Missouri (“Nelson photograph”). On August 2, 2013, he photographed Chris Daughtry during a performance in Indianapolis, Indiana (“Daughtry Photograph”).

In an effort to increase his marketability and reputation and to gain more work, Philpot made the photographs of Nelson and Daughtry generally available through Wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (“CC BY 2.0”). Philpot asserts that CC BY 2.0 requires a licensee to (a) reference CC BY 2.0 with every copy of the photo used and (b) provide attribution in the manner specified by the author. He claims that these requirements applied to republication of his copyrighted photos of Nelson and Daughtry. The two new Indiana copyright infringement complaints assert that Defendants did not comply with these licensing requirements and are, consequently, liable for copyright infringement.

In the first complaint, Mansion America, LLC d/b/a Oak Ridge Boys Theater of Branson, Missouri is accused of copyright infringement of Philpot’s Willie Nelson photograph, Certificate Number VAu 1-132-411, which was issued by the U.S. Copyright Office.

In the second complaint, Everything Brooklyn Media, LLC d/b/a The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, is accused of copyright infringement of Philpot’s Nelson photograph and also the Daughtry Photograph, Certificate Number VAu 1-164-624, which was also issued by the U.S. Copyright Office.

In the copyright complaint against Mansion, filed by Philpot acting as a pro se litigant, the following claims are made:

• Count I: Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition
• Count II: Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
• Count III: Removal of Identifying Information

The copyright complaint filed against The Brooklyn Daily Eagle asserts only the first count (copyright infringement and unfair competition).

In both complaints, Philpot asks the court for an injunction, damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.

Practice Tip #1: Under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1), a copyright owner may elect actual or statutory damages. Statutory damages range from a sum of not less than $750 to not more than $30,000 per infringed work.

Practice Tip #2: The claims in these complaints may trigger the “advertising injury” clause of many general business liability insurance policies. If a defendant has applicable business insurance, it may provide coverage for the expenses of a legal defense and damages found due as a result of unintentional copyright infringement. Overhauser Law Offices, publisher of this Site, counsels clients on insurance coverage for insurance claims.

The case was assigned to Judge Tanya Walton Pratt and Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch in the Southern District of Indiana and assigned Case No. 1:14-cv-01357-TWP-DML.

Philpot v Brooklyn Complaint

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