February 4th, 2014
Joel Rothman sent me a press release recently describing the suit that he is representing Iran Watson in federal court in Atlanta and Iran gave me permission to use the infringed photo (to the right). It’s an interesting story that I thought PFRE readers would be interested in. Here is the press release:
ATLANTA — One February evening in Atlanta, with clear skies and temperatures in the 40s, Atlanta area real estate and architectural photographer Iran Watson set up his camera in the park opposite the iconic Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. As the sun set and streetlights came on, Watson captured Atlanta’s famous cylindrical tower shimmering in the twilight.
Watson showed off the image on his Flickr® Photostream with a digital watermark that read “Iran Watson Photo 2011.” Watson also identified the picture as being copyrighted with all rights reserved in the Flickr® licensing dialog, which meant that third-parties who wanted to use the photograph were required to obtain Watson’s permission first.
Two years later, Watson entered an Atlanta area convenience store and was surprised to see his photo emblazoned on the cover for the Atlanta Metro Street Map, published by Kappa Maps Group. Watson also noticed that his watermark was cropped out. The spiral-bound map, used daily by Atlanta real estate agents, house hunters, local officials, and average Atlantans, sells for about $15.
“I never gave permission to Kappa to use my photo or remove my copyright notice,” Watson said. When Watson contacted the publisher, they claimed his photograph was Creative Commons licensed, and did not know what happened to his watermark. “They refused to do anything,” Watson recalled “except they offered me $20 for my photo, but I declined.”
Now, represented by Schneider Rothman IP Law Group, Watson is suing Kappa Map Group in federal court in Atlanta. His claim is for copyright infringement and also Kappa’s removal of Watson’s watermark which is a type of “copyright management information” or CMI. The lawsuit seeks damages and a recall of all Kappa’s infringing maps. No trial date has been set.
“Many publishers fail to realize that cropping out copyright notices, stripping out digital watermarks, and falsely attributing photo credits violate the Copyright Act,” said Joel Rothman, a Schneider Rothman IP Law Group partner. “In fact, CMI violations can be more serious offences than copyright infringement because they entitle the copyright owner to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees,” Rothman added.
Since it was founded, partners Jerold Schneider and Joel Rothman have filed infringement lawsuits for plaintiffs in federal courts in Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Florida, and now Georgia. Schneider Rothman IP Law Group often works with other firms on these cases.
“The internet has made it easy for infringers to copy the works of artists, photographers, illustrators, or authors,” Rothman said. “Copyright owners need knowledgeable allies when someone takes their creative work without permission.”
ABOUT SCHNEIDER ROTHMAN IP LAW GROUP
Schneider Rothman IP Law Group takes your intellectual property seriously. Jerold I. Schneider and Joel Rothman, the firm’s board-certified intellectual property lawyers, bring and defend infringement litigation nationwide. They also help owners of intellectual property patent, copyright and trademark their work. The firm entertains contingency and alternative fee arrangements, and helps entrepreneurs and independent inventors monetize their IP. To contact the firm at its Boca Raton, Florida, office, call 561-404-4350 or visit SRIPLAW.COM.