Mann Law Group Wins $1.3 Million Jury Verdict in Favor Of Seattle Professional Photographer

Today a Seattle jury awarded Seattle professional photographer Lloyd Shugart a $1.3 Million verdict following a three day jury trial. Philip P. Mann of the Mann Law Group was lead trial counsel for Mr. Shugart.

The case arose when Mr. Shugart discovered that his client, Propet USA, Inc., a wholesale supplier of shoes, had been using Mr. Shugart's photographs beyond the scope of the license he granted. When he complained, Propet responded by filing a declaratory judgment suit seeking (1) a declaration that Mr. Shugart had no rights in the photographs he took and supplied to Propet and (2) an injunction against Mr. Shugart's attempts to sell his images.

Mr. Shugart filed counterclaims for (1) copyright infringement, (2) violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and (3) loss of and/or failure to return Mr. Shugart's original images.

After finding that Propet (1) infringed Mr. Shugart’s copyrights, (2) willfully removed his copyright management information from his images, and (3) failed to return his original images, the Jury awarded Mr. Shugart $303,000 for loss of Mr. Shugart's images, $500,000 in statutory damages for copyright infringement, and $500,000 in damages for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

John Whitaker of the Whitaker Law Group and Ms. Eryn Deblois of the Mann Law Group ably assisted at trial.

The case is Propet USA, Inc., v. Lloyd Shugart, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, Case No. C06-186 MAT.

Uh...Can We Take a Mulligan?

Before suing, it's a good idea to make sure you have a case. It's also a good idea to play by the rules. Lest anyone forget, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued 2.7 million "reminders" last week to a company that brought an ill-considered copyright infringement case against Compaq Computer Corporation.

Continue Reading...

Mickey, Watch Your Back. (Famous Mouse Faces New Legal Threat)

Some cynics claim Congress passes copyright laws mostly to protect Mickey Mouse. While that might be overstating things, there's no question the trend over the past thirty years has been to expand the rights of copyright owners, Disney included.

A recent article in Wired talks about a new legal challenge (Kahle v. Ashcroft) to expansive copyright laws. While I don't think the challenge will succeed, it does raise interesting questions prompted by changes in the way information is now distributed.

Continue Reading...

Music companies now sue music 'downloaders' for copyright violation

In recent weeks, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports music companies like Warner Bros., Sony Music, BMG Music, Capital Re-cords, Elektra and Motown have "blitzed U.S. courthouses with lawsuits against people they accuse of online piracy. Cases have been filed against 744 users of Kazaa, eDonkey, Limewire, Grokster and other file-sharing platforms."

The lawsuits now are against individuals who have downloaded music as opposed to the larger players who produce or host the peer-to-peer file-sharing programs. It's the latter group the music industry has battled for years.

Continue Reading...