Seattle Photographer Awarded $1.3 Million in Copyright Lawsuit

Posted on 10/1/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Lloyd Shugart, a Seattle-based professional photographer, was just awarded $1.3 million in a three-day jury trial. Represented by the Mann Law Group, Shugart was a defendant in the copyright-infringement case.

Shugart, whose editorial work has been published by Rolling Stone, Vibe and Jazz Times, has a degree in commercial photography and specializes in fashion and beauty. Some time after completing a project for Propét USA, Inc., a wholesale shoe supplier, Shugart discovered that Propét continued using his photographs beyond the scope of the original license.

When Shugart attempted to contact the client to resolve the matter, Propét took him to court, seeking a declaration that Shugart had no rights in his photos and an injunction against Shugart’s attempts to sell his images. Shugart countersued for copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and failure to return original images.

When presented with the facts, the jury found that Propét was not given an unlimited license by Shugart and did, knowingly and intentionally, infringe the photographer’s copyrights. The jury concluded that Propét was aware that its conduct was unlawful but still proceeded to remove copyright-management information from Shugart’s photographs and failed to return the photographer’s originals.

Actual damages were determined to be relatively minimal, amounting to $12,800. However, the jury penalized the plaintiff heavily in other categories. Removal of copyright-management information, which constituted a violation of DMCA, warranted $500,000; failure to return the originals was judged a $303,000 offense; and statutory damages were an additional $500,000.

Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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