A federal jury in Maryland has awarded $900,000 in actual damages to an Oregon-based plant retailer for its claims against a competitor over unauthorized use of two dozen copyrighted images. The jury verdict, delivered last week, also included a $300,000 statutory damages award, but the plaintiff may elect one jury award or the other (not both) under copyright law.
Under a Foot Plant Co., owner of a product line of perennial plants called Stepables, sued competitor Exterior Design, Inc. in 2014 for unauthorized use of 24 photographs. The images were created by Under a Foot president Frances White for use in marketing materials for Stepables.
Maryland-based Exterior Design infringed the photographs a total of 133 times beginning in 2011, according to the plaintiff. The photos appeared on web pages, posters and in brochures used to market an Exterior Design product line called Treadwell Plants.
Under a Foot Plant says it notified Exterior Design several times between 2011 and 2014 of the infringements, and demanded that Exterior Design “cease and desist,” according to the complaint.
In addition to copyright infringement claims, Under a Foot Plant charged Exterior Design with unfair competition and unjust enrichment.
Exterior Design denied all the claims.
At trial, photographer Jeff Sedlik appeared as an expert witness for Under a Foot Plant Co. He presented evidence to prove that the images used by Exterior Design were, in fact, from the Under a Foot Plant photo library. He also testified about the fair market license value of Perennial Farm’s unauthorized uses, noting that the use of the photographs “in competing marketing materials increased the likely cost of a license drastically,” according to a statement released by White.
“This was a huge win for artists, photographer, and creators,” White said in the statement. “These photograph were the result of countless hours of time, attention, planning and preparation.”
Vivian Maier Estate Sues Jeffrey Goldberg for Copyright, Trademark Infringement
Appeals Court Upholds $1.6 Million Copyright Infringement Verdict (for subscribers)
Photog Jana Romanova Sues Vice for Copyright Infringement: Again.
How (and Why) to Make Copyright Registration Part of Your Workflow (for subscribers)
Danny Clinch filed suit in federal court in New York June 2, alleging multiple copyright infringements of two of his photographs of late rap artist Tupac Shakur. The photographs were allegedly reprinted and distributed on T-shirts without permission. Clinch, a noted music photographer, names five defendants, including an agent for Shakur’s estate, two merchandise manufacturers,... More ›
Missoula, Montana-based photographer Erika Peterman is suing The Republican National Committee (RNC) for willful copyright infringement. The suit, filed in Montana District Court earlier this week, alleges the RNC used without permission a Peterman photograph of Rob Quist, the Democratic candidate in a special election to fill Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.... More ›
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government’s consumer protection agency, says it sent warning letters to 90 Instagram users and marketers, reminding them that sponsored Instagram posts must be clearly identified as sponsored or paid content. The FTC did not release the identities of the Instagram users it warned, but said they included “celebrities, athletes... More ›