3 Count: Three Years of Damages

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1: Second Circuit Limits Copyright Damages To Those Incurred Within Three Years Prior to Suit

First off today, Andrea L. Calvaruso & Tara Marciano at Ad Law Access reports that photographer Joseph Sohm has suffered a defeat at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as it rules that he is not entitled to damages from more than three years he filed a lawsuit against publisher Scholastic Inc.

In copyright, there is typically a three-year statute of limitations, which means that once a would-be plaintiff is aware of or should reasonably have been aware of an infringement, they have three years in which to file a lawsuit. However, there is still a question as to when damages accrue, do they accrue with the discovery of the infringement, the “discovery rule” or the actual start of the infringement, the “injury rule”. With the former, the plaintiff can collect damages for the entire span of the infringement, with the injury rule they are barred from collecting beyond three years before the lawsuit was filed since those damages had accrued before the three-year window.

In this case, which dealt with Sohm suing Scholastic over infringement of 89 of his images, the court ruled that the injury rule applied, meaning that the damages he can collect is limited to three years before the lawsuit was filed. This is in spite of the fact that the court agreed Sohm had filed his lawsuit timely as he had no reason to be aware of the infringements until when he filed the lawsuit.

2: Minister’s Widow Can Get Attorneys’ Fees in Ninth Circuit Copyright Case

Next up today, Blake Brittain at Bloomberg Law reports that a minister’s widow may be able to collect attorneys’ fees in a copyright case involving her late husband’s work.

The case involves the recordings of Eugene Scott, who launched the first 24-hour religious television network. When he died, he left his rights to his widow, Melissa Scott. However, when a Georgia minister named Patrick Robinson sought to share Eugene Scott’s sermons with his students, Melissa declined. Robinson distributed the videos anyway and that prompted a legal battle where Melissa was joined by Delores Press Inc., a company that had a license agreement with her, to sue Robinson and his company.

Robinson attempted to argue that Eugene had abandoned his copyrights shortly before he died. Though the court dismissed Dolores Press’ actions, it also ruled in their favor on the issue of copyright abandonment. They sought attorney’s fees for that issue but were denied because, according to the district court, it was outside the purview of the copyright act. However, the Ninth Circuit overturned that, since it was an attempt to show the works at issue were outside of copyright protection, it was part of the scope of the copyright issue and can earn attorneys’ fees and costs.

3: Photographer Prevails in Copyright Fight Over Antonio Marras’ Fall/Winter 2014 Collection | The Fashion Law

Finally today, The Fashion Law reports that, in Italy, photographer Daniel Cox has emerged victorious in a lawsuit against fashion brand Antonia Marras over the use of his photos on various articles of clothing.

In February 2014 Antonia Marras unveiled a new fashion line that featured a photograph of a wolf that was taken by Cox. Cox sued alleging that the company had no license to use the image but Antonia Marras argued that the photo did not qualify for copyright protection as it was a “simple” photo.

However, the court found in favor of Cox noting several creative decisions he made in the process of taking the image. As a result, they’ve ordered Antonia Marras to pay nearly $52,000 in damages and legal fees. The court also ordered the brand to cease the infringement and avoid similar infringements in the future.

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