Thursday, February 12, 2009

Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: January 2009 Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute. CORBIS CORPORATION v. PERFECTION SOFTWARE, INC. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK (FOLEY SQUARE) 1:09-CV-00837 FILED: 1/29/2009 Corbis is very aggressive and we have dealt with them on a number of occasions. They use automated software to search the web and locate images that are not properly licensed and then demand significant licensing fees for each image as damages. I have seen claims asserted by Corbis on images that are widely recognized as in the public domain. But Corbis claims that it has enhanced the images to such an extent that the creative works have become new and subject to copyright registration and protection. Consequently, all because you believe that an image is in the public domain (such as the photograph of the Scopes Monkey Trial or the image taken by the astronaut of the earth) you need to be careful. Even images that everyone thinks are in the public domain can be the subject of claims asserted by Corbis. And Bill Gates can afford to litigate. Corbis Corporation is in the business of licensing photograph and fine art images on behalf of itself and the photographers and other licensors it represents. It was founded by Bill Gates. The Defendant allegedly used some unlicensed copyright images of the Plaintiff on its website. The Plaintiff has sued for copyright infringement and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Plaintiff requests injunctive relief, statutory damages and an award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest. Traverse Internet Law-Cross Reference Number 1279. JENNIFER L. GEORGE v. SCOTT GRUENWALD, ET AL. EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA (FRESNO) 1:09-CV-00189 FILED: 1/27/2009 Did you know copyright infringement does not require knowledge or intent to infringe? The mere use of a copyright protected image creates liability. It may seem unfair, but the fact is that anyone who uses images without determining definitely that they are in the public domain or without obtaining a license is at risk of infringing on a copyright. Don’t use images you find on the web and make sure that you have the proper license from the owner of the image or other creative work before using those on your website or in any other manner. Plaintiff is an individual who happened to be going through a ghost house and took photographs that depict “ghostly human forms and faces”. Plaintiff then sent the photos, with the desire to simply share her discovery, to the Defendant. She thereafter obtained registered copyrights for the photographs. The Defendant distributed the photographs to the other Defendants, some of which are publications that used the photographs online. Some of the Defendants posted the photographs on their MySpace page. The Plaintiff has sued for copyright infringement and requested an award of compensatory damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1280. ENHANCED RECOVERY CORPORATION v. CORBIS CORPORATION AND INVEX GROUP, INC. MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE) 3:09-CV-00052 FILED: 1/20/2009 You can expect Corbis to file a counterclaim against both parties for copyright infringement. This is another way in which you can get caught up in a claim for copyright infringement. Your web development contract must have adequate provisions prohibiting the use of any unlicensed images and containing adequate indemnification provisions so if such a claim is asserted you can look to the web developer for payment of both your legal costs and any damages that might arise. Doing business with a web developer that will be around when such a claim arises, or has adequate assets to assure you that it is financially capable of indemnifying your company, is of critical importance. Corbis sent a letter to the Plaintiff alleging copyright infringement for images hosted on its website. The Plaintiff had hired Defendant Invex to build the site and is alleged to have used the images without proper licensing from Defendant Corbis. Corbis initially demanded the removal of the 22 images. The Plaintiff immediately removed the allegedly infringing copyrighted images from its websites and licensed “similar images” from a third party for $100.00. Corbis then demanded licensing fees after the images had been removed from the site. The Plaintiff has sued for declaratory relief against Corbis and requested indemnification against Plaintiff’s web developer, Invex. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1281.

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