Bassett v. Jensen et al. (18-cv-10576).

Judge Saris denied Bassett’s motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent the release of the accused films. The case was brought by Leah Bassett, a Martha’s Vineyard artist who rented her home to the defendants, who used the home as the setting for pornographic films. Bassett asserted copyright infringement, base don her original artworks in the house being displayed in the films. She filed suit nearly three years after discovering that the defendants were filming at her house, and first sought preliminary injunctive relief nearly eighteen months after filing suit. Judge Saris determined that Bassett could not make the requisite element of irreparable harm. She cited several reasons – Bassett had disavowed claims for actual damages and sought only statutory damages; all of the copyrighted articles were personal belongings not for sale, eliminating many of the categories of irreparable harm (reputational harm, tarnishment, dilution) that might exist for items that were the subject of commerce; the minimal use of the copyrighted material in the films; and Bassett’s delays in filing suit and then seeking the injunction, which undercuts the notion of irreparable harm. Judge Saris further noted that the Defendants had agreed to voluntarily remove all the films and photographs shot in Bassett’s home from distribution, leaving only bootleg copies that an injunction would not address in distribution.

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