J. Jonah Jameson enforces his copyrights. A photographer filed a lawsuit against the IMDB for copyright infringement because it used a photograph of Tom Holland in Spidey-attire without permission.
Zelig Shaul is a photographer based in Brooklyn, who had apparently been doing some recon on the upcoming Spider-Man movie (which I am VERY excited about). Shaul took some pictures while on the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming, one of which included a picture of actor Tom Holland (the new Spider-Man). Shaul says that his photo was published (does not disclose in what manner it was published) and that he has a pending copyright registration (spoiler: oh no) for the photo.
Then, like some sort of Green Goblin, the IMDB swoops in and uses his photo in one of their slideshows for the upcoming movie (again, super excited…). Naturally, Shaul has a problem with IMDB using his photo since he neither licensed nor sold it to the website. Shaul is seeking actual damages and “defendant’s profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to Defendant’s infringement of Plaintiff’s (Shaul’s) Photograph,” or statutory damages of up to $150,000.
But Shaul has a problem, he does not yet have a copyright registration. Under 17 U.S.C. § 411(a), a copyright holder must register its work before it can initiate a lawsuit against an infringer: no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In NY, this requires the copyright registration to be in hand. Oops. Looks like this case is going to have to wait a bit until it is decided on the merits.
Author, Martin Passante, is a 2L at Brooklyn Law School. Martin focuses his studies in intellectual property, entertainment, and copyright law especially in the world of YouTube.