Tuesday, May 16, 2017

$1.2M Copyright Claim Awarded for Infringement of Photos

A common refrain by photographers who make excuses for not registering their work with the copyright office is that they’re not that valuable, or that no one would want to steal them.

On May 11th, in Baltimore Maryland, a jury awarded the copyright owner $900,000 in actual damages and $300,000 in statutory damages for 133 total infringements of 24 different images, of plants, in Under A Food Plant Company v. Exterior Design Inc.  The case is BPG-15-871, before the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

At issue was a a series of photographs of a product line that were stolen and used to market and sell a competing product line by a competing nursery. While to the un-trained eye the products may have appeared similar, however according to the press release, “Professor Jeffrey Sedlik, a leading expert on visual arts and photography licensing, was called as an expert witness at trial…He confirmed the infringement using a fingerprint-like “feature point analysis” of the photographs and then researched the fair market value for licensing similar images in similar marketing materials.  Professor Sedlik noted that the use of these photographs in competing marketing materials increased the likely cost of a license drastically, thus increasing the damages sustained by Under A Foot Plant, Co.  The size of the jury award suggests that Professor Sedlik’s testimony was critical in demonstrating Under A Foot Plant, Co.’s damages to the jury.”

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