Premium Sports sued the Somerville Sports Club, as well as its owners and operators, accusing them of improperly intercepting the satellite signal for a soccer match between Sporting CP and Porto of the Primeira Liga, the premier league of Portugal. Premier Sports claims to have had the exclusive rights to the U.S. distribution of the game. Aside from copyright infringement claims, Premier Sports asserts violation of 47 U.S.C. 605 (a), which prohibits the unauthorized reception and broadcast of foreign communications, and 47 U.S.C. 553, which prohibits the unauthorized reception, interception and exhibition of communications offered over a cable system, The case is assigned to Judge Woodlock.
Jonathan Monsarrat had sued Brian Zaiger, alleged to be the owner and administrator of the website Encyclopedia Dramatica, for copyright infringement relating to a June 2000 MIT graduation photograph published on Encyclopedia Dramatica. Encyclopedia Dramatica, which Monsarrat characterizes as similar to Wikipedia but hosting offensive and unsourced articles catering to internet “trolling” culture, is accused of altering a photograph of Monsarrat in an MIT mascot costume to associate the mascot, and thus Monsarrat, with an internet meme “pedobear,” a mascot for pedophiles. Monsarrat initially served a take-down notice relating to the altered photo in January 2011; the website was then taken down in its entirety, only to resurface under a different country domain. Over the course of the next several years, Monsarrat sent several take-down notices to domain registrars and agents, but could not identify Zaiger as the owner of the site due to Zaiger’s use of anonymous acronyms to disguise his identity.
When Monsarrat ultimately filed suit on March 2, 2017, Zaiger moved to dismiss the complaint as time-barred, which Judge Saris has granted. The complaint made clear that Monsarrat knew of the alleged copyright infringement since at least 2012, well earlier than the three-year statute of limitations permits. Judge Saris rejected Monsarrat’s argument that the limitations period does not begin until the identity of the infringer is known to the accuser, noting that suits against unnamed parties are common. Zaiger’s counterclaim under 17 U.S.C. 512(f), alleging knowing misrepresentation that the photograph is infringing, remain in effect.
William Higgins filed suit pro se against Christine Sullivan, accusing her of hacking into his account, taking 32 photographs, and changing the copyright attribution information from Higgin’s name to her own.
Linda Matlow, a Chicago-based photographer, accuses on-line magazine and website Her Campus of using a 2010 Matlow photograph of Victoria’s Secret model Erin Heatherton in a post titled “12 More Celebrity Look-Alikes on Yale’s Campus!” Matlow brings a copyright infringement claim against Her Campus Media, and a claim for vicarious liability for the infringement against Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Her Campus Media’s CEO.
Alamite Ventures, owners of a Russian-language internet video streaming service known as “TUA.tv,” filed an interesting lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts against a competitor Russian-language video streaming service, “eTVnet.” According to the complaint, eTVnet is populated with pirated copyrighted videos for which no license fees were paid, and advertises the service as legal and fully-licensed. Because of this, eTVnet can both offer content that the copyright owners do not license out, making the content unavailable to companies operating legitimately, and to offer lower prices as a result of not paying license fees. The complaint names eTVnet’s two owners and operators as co-defendants with the company, and use the multiplicity of defendants to assert claims of civil conspiracy, along with unfair business practices and false designation of origin/false or misleading representations of fact under the Lanham Act. It will be interesting to see if this complaint, which effectively argues for redress of harm resulting from infringement of third-party, non-plaintiff’s copyrights, can survive a preemption challenge under 17 U.S.C. § 301.
Comerica Bank, appointed by the probate court as the Personal Representative of the estate of Prince, sued Massachusetts resident Kian Andrew Habib over videos posted by Habib on YouTube that included live recordings of several Prince-written songs, including “Nothing Compares 2 U,” “Glam Slam,” and “Sign o’ the Times.” The complaint alleges that these videos were posted for commercial purposes, including at least advertising revenue generated by views of the videos by YouTube users, and that this commercial use negatively affected the value of the Prince estate by taking away from revenues legitimate Prince videos could realize. YouTube removed the videos in response to a take-down notice. In response, Habib provided a counter-notification pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 512(g), contesting their removal. Comerica filed suit to prevent the videos from being reposted, and seeks damages and attorneys’ fees as well as injunctive relief. (Full Disclosure – Comerica is represented by members of my firm, Lando & Anastasi).
Photographer Richard Sobol sued filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler for copyright infringement. Sobol alleges that the defendants, operating as Pack Creek Productions, used a number of Sobol’s photographs of ex-Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank in their 2015 documentary film Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank. Sobol seeks destruction of all copies of the film and actual and/or statutory damages. Judge Stearns was assigned to the case.