Stross v. IvyMedia Corporation et al. (18-cv-10240).

Judge Sorokin denied IvyMedia’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint, asserting that it is not responsible for the conduct alleged in the complaint. At the pleadings stage, where all factual allegations must be accepted as true, the Court cannot make the determination that IvyMedia is the improper party. He also denied both defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, finding the arguments to be factual in nature rather than a legal assertion that the alleged conduct fails to violate any of the cited copyright statutes.

Stellar Records, LLC v. Urbanowski (18-cv-11233).

Stellar Records, a company that obtains copyrights to songs which it then re-records as karaoke versions, sued William Urbanowski of Southbridge, Massachusetts, accusing him of purchasing computer hard drives and laptops from Mark Mann, an individual with whom Stellar is presently engaged in copyright infringement litigation in Arizona. Stellar asserts that the products bought by Urbanowski for a total of $795 contained at least 250,000 karaoke recordings, apiece, and that the cost, had Urbanowski purchased lawful copies at retail, would have been more than $741,000, and that this significant price difference should have alerted Urbanowski that the recordings were pirated copies. Stellar asserts that it owns the copyright on at least 264 of the recordings bought by Urbanowksi, and brings claims of willful contributory copyright infringement, saying that Urbanowski’s ordering of the hard drives induced Mann to create unlawful copies of the songs onto the hard drives. In addition to destruction of the accused products and an award of attorneys’ fees, Stellar seeks statutory damages of between $750 and $150,000 per work infringed, for a total of between $198,000 and $39.6 million.

Wild v. Wrightson Services, Inc. et al. (18-cv-11186).

Biologist Alexander Wild, who is the Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, takes surprisingly beautiful photographs of insects.  His works, some of which can be seen on his website, have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, and elsewhere.  Mr. Wild discovered that one of his photos, depicting a German cockroach, was being used on a website run by Wrightson Services, a pest control service in Grafton Massachusetts that operates under the name Bug Bully Pest Control.  Wild claims to have contacted Bug Bully on several occasions about its use of the photo, but the photo was not removed, triggering the suit.  Wild claims direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.  The case is assigned to Magistrate Judge Hennessy in the Worcester division.

WB Music Corp. et al. v. Galmike Corp. et al. (18-cv-11179).

WB Music, in conjunction with several musical composition right-holders, sued Dorchester’s Galmike Corp. and its owner, Michael Galvin, for copyright infringement in conjunction with the Harp and Bard Restaurant and Bar.  The subject compositions, the licensing of which is controlled by ASCAP, are “Whatta Man,’ “Jump Around,” and the oddly-catchy “Because I Got High,” alleged to have been publicly performed in the bar in March and April 2018.  The complaint alleges that ASCAP had repeatedly tried to have the Harp and Bard take a license or cease allowing the performance of ASCAP-controlled music, with no response.  Injunctive relief, statutory damages of no less than $750 and no more than $30,000 per performance, and costs and fees are sought.

Kahn v. Institute for Social and Cultural Communications, Inc. et al. (18-cv-10977).

Washington D.C. photographer Greg Kahn sued ISCC for copyright infringement, accusing ISCC of using his registered photographs of Virginia’s Rising Hope Mission Church on its “zcomm.org” website.  Kahn asserts copyright infringement against ISCC, as well as contributory and/or vicarious liability against unnamed defendants who control the site.

Crosby Legacy Company, LLC d/b/a Philip Crosby Associates v. TechnipFMC plc (18-cv-10814).

Crosby Legacy offers quality consulting services that employ the teachings of its founder, Philip J. Crosby, a pioneer in the field.  Crosby Legacy consulted for energy company FMC under an agreement executed in 2014 which permitted FMC to utilize the Crosby materials company-wide, including copyrighted works and the use of three Crosby trademarks – Absolutes of Quality Management™, Absolutes of Quality™, and Price of Nonconformance™.  The 2014 Agreement restricted continued use of the Crosby materials should FMC experience a change in control.  FMC subsequently merged with Technip S.A., creating defendant company Technip FMC in January 2017. Pursuant to the change of control provisions, Crosby Legacy sought to negotiate an agreement with the new entity to allow them continued use of the Crosby materials.  TechnipFMC expressed a strong interest in continuing the relationship, and according to Crosby Legacy, a $2.3 million agreement was reached via a string of e-mails in May 2017, needing only to be memorialized and executed.  TechnipFMC dragged its feet on the specific language to be included in the new agreement, and ultimately announced in November 2017 that it was no longer interested in working with Crosby Legacy.  At that point, TechnipFMC had used the Crosby materials for eleven months without paying, in violation of the 2014 Agreement’s change of control language.  Crosby accuses TechnipFMC of breaching the 2014 Agreement and of having formed, and then breached, the 2017 Agreement, and also brings claims of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, 93A claims, trademark and copyright infringement, and unjust enrichment.  The case is before Judge Wolf.

American Chair & Seating Corp. v. Restaurant Seating Corp. et al. (18-cv-10750).

In a sibling rivalry gone wrong, American Chair accuses Restaurant Seating and Stephen DiStasio of copyright and trademark infringement, palming off, and violation of M.G.L. 93A in connection with Restaurant Seating’s alleged use of American Chair’s copyrighted photographs, trademarks, and trade dress to steer business from the former to the latter.  Prior to forming Restaurant Seating, Stephen DiStasio worked for American Chair under the supervision of his brother and American Chair’s President, Michael DiStasio.  Restaurant Seating is accused of using American Chair’s copyrighted photographs on its website, using confusingly similar slogans to those registered by American Chair (e.g., “We build furniture to last the life of your concept” versus American’s registered “Furniture built to last the life of your concept”), and passing off American Chair products as if they were Restaurant Seating’s offerings, including in at least one instance hiring a manufacturer to knock off an American design that had been used to sell to a Salem, MA restaurant.  American Chair seeks temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief in addition to damages and attorneys fees.  The case is before Judge Woodlock.