Photographer Wins Landmark Lawsuit Against BuzzFeed After They Remove Photo Credit
Photographer Gregory Mango has won his landmark lawsuit against BuzzFeed last week when a court ruled that the online publication was ‘liable for third-party infringement of a photograph by Mango’ by removing the photographers’ Copyright from the images in question.
The photo, originally licensed and posted in the New York Post, was grabbed by an author from BuzzFeed and published it without credit or consent, instead, credited the Law Firm that the article was about. According to the writer of the BuzzFeed post, the law firm recommended he use the photo from the New York Post article which was how he came to credit the firm.
According to Rangefinder, when Mango filed suit against BuzzFeed, it was grounded on two points: for the online pub using his image without permission, and for removing his copyright management information (or CMI) in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
BuzzFeed fought Mango in court on the latter point, appealing a previous ruling and claiming that they couldn’t be held liable “because there was no evidence that it knew its conduct would lead to future, third-party infringement.”
On August 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed, upholding the lower court’s ruling and awarding Mango $3,750 in statutory damages for copyright infringement, $5,000 in statutory damages for violation of the DMCA, and “reasonable” attorney’s fees ($65,132.50 in fees and $1,810.03 in costs).
You can read the full opinion below;
The case is, adds the Photo Attorney report, “good news with respect to the knowledge requirement of the DMCA, which has been difficult for photographers to prove. This court’s explanation of the knowledge requirement paves the way for more successful claims.”
The takeaway here is this will likely be a key ruling that is referenced in copyright infringement cases for photographers moving forward with the court striking down BuzzFeed’s argument of “ignorance of the potential ramifications of removing copyright info” stating that removing that info was enough to hold the publication liable.
This feels like some pretty great news to me, especially when the legal fees can run so high compared to the $8,750 in damages! What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.