On July 5, the First Circuit, in the appeal of Spooner v. EEN, upheld a district court’s award of attorneys’ fees against a willful infringer. Although the amount of the fee award, just under $100,000 for a case that went all the way through trial, does not seem very high. The defendant, however, argued that the award was excessive because the plaintiff was only awarded $10,000 in statutory damages. The First Circuit rejected this argument, holding that there is no strict proportionality requirement for fee awards. The court also pointed out that often times in copyright cases the non-monetary relief is more valuable than the damages awarded, and that such value must be taken into account. The court noted that the plaintiff had carefully reduced its overall fees to account for work done against other defendants (which settled before trial) and for various unsuccessful motions filed by the plaintiff. [Read more…]
Archives for July 2011
A somewhat whimsical (and brief) look at my copyright litigation practice in today’s issue of New York Legal Bisnow:
Wow. Is it always wise to sue?
A photographer who was hired (and paid) by the United Nations’ international children’s charity, UNICEF, has sued the charitable organization for copyright infringement.
The photographer’s company, William Anthony Photography, Inc., alleged that although UNICEF paid him in full for several photo shoots featuring prominent celebrities for use in a fund-raising campaign, he only granted UNICEF a license to use the photos for a BELIEVE IN ZERO “print campaign.” WAP alleges that UNICEF exceeded this license by also featuring the photographs on things like billboards, buses and trains, airport video displays and illuminated subway displays. By doing so, WAP claims that UNICEF infringed its copyrights in the photographs.
Among the relief sought by the photographer is UNICEF’s revenues derived from the fundraising campaign. No word yet on whether the plaintiff intends to seek an injunction to stop UNICEF from feeding starving children or assisting child refugees so the “ill gotten gains” are not dissipated. . . Also no word on whether UNICEF will pay any potential judgment in Halloween penny boxes. [Read more…]