Posts

Instagram Copyright Lawsuits

Can You Get Sued for Posting a Picture of Yourself on Instagram?

 

Instagram Copyright Lawsuits

The popularity of social media has exploded in recent years, with just about everyone having at least one type of social media account. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other platform, the reality is that social media accounts and interactions are pretty much unavoidable these days. Unfortunately, as more and more people use social media, there is also a greater chance of legal liability because intellectual property rights may be affected. Even paparazzi are filing copyright lawsuits against celebrities who post photos of themselves on Instagram. One question that comes up more than any other in this area of law is: Can you get sued for posting a picture of yourself on Instagram?

To find out whether you can be sued merely for posting a photograph of yourself on Instagram or other social media platforms, keep reading.

Copyright Troll Lawsuits Target Instagram Account Holders

There has been a proliferation of bad-faith lawsuits in California and other states where lawyers claim that the account holders are violating copyright laws. These copyright trolls are typically looking for a quick cash settlement, and they have little intention of ever taking the case to trial. If you are not careful when using social media, you could find yourself named as the defendant in a potentially expensive civil suit. That’s because copyright troll attorneys who scour the internet looking for supposed “copyright violations” won’t just limit their focus to actors, models, and other celebrities who post photographs of themselves on Instagram. The truth is that anyone who uses social media is at risk.

Copyright Troll Richard Liebowitz Sues Amy Schumer, Gigi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian

In the last three months, celebrities Amy Schumer, Gigi Hadid, and Kim Kardashian have all been sued for posting photos of themselves to their Instagram accounts. In each case, the photographer behind the photos in question has alleged that they are the owner and copyright holder of the media, and that the subjects of the photos have no right to post them. Richard Liebowitz, attorney for the plaintiffs in all cases, has filed complaints stating that, “One cannot use photographs without the photographer’s permission, even for social media websites.” The lawsuits involve DMCA takedown notices, as well a demand for monetary damages.

In the lawsuit against Amy Schumer, the plaintiff’s attorney claims that the photographs in question were copyrighted, even though he does not declare the date of the copyright. A search of records maintained by the United States Copyright Office shows that the photographs were copyrighted on February 8, 2020, which is three months after Schumer allegedly infringed on the copyright by posting the photos.

What Is the Best Way to Respond to a Copyright Troll?


If you’ve been accused of copyright infringement for posting a photograph on Instagram, your first step should be to speak with an experienced intellectual property lawyer who knows how to raise strong defenses against copyright lawsuits. An attorney who understands federal copyright laws can closely examine the facts of the case and identify problems with the original complaint.

For example, the complaint against Amy Schumer states that the plaintiff is “the sole owner of all right, title, and interest” in the photographs. However, if the photo was previously shared on a social media platform by the copyright owner, this may not be the case. Instagram’s terms of use agreement states that when a user shares, posts, or uploads content that is covered by intellectual property rights, they grant to the social media platform “a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivate works of the content.” As such, any plaintiff who posts a photo or video on Instagram is only a non-exclusive licensee of the work, and their legal exposure is probably limited.

Contact the Los Angeles Copyright Defense Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

Courts have been receptive to the Instagram copyright case defense, but the issue is not usually litigated because most copyright defendants opt to settle promptly and avoid a trial. If you have been accused of copyright infringement for posting content on your Instagram, Facebook, or other social media account, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. The Los Angeles copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP have experience fighting back against copyright trolls and winning cases before they go to trial.

Call us at 310-590-3927, or send an email to discuss your case.

Richard Liebowitz Copyright Claims

Richard Liebowitz Refiles and Dismisses Copyright Claim

Richard Liebowitz Copyright Claims

When a plaintiff brings a copyright claim or any other type of lawsuit, there has to be some basis for the legal action. Unfortunately, some lawyers choose to use the threat of a civil suit as leverage to force a cash settlement, even when the case has little or no merit. Courts do not look kindly on this questionable tactic, and they can punish both the plaintiff and their attorney in these cases. Serial copyright litigant Richard Liebowitz recently found this out the hard way when a federal court awarded attorney’s fees against him for his practice of refiling and dismissing copyright claims without prejudice. This case was a good example of why it’s so important to be represented by a skilled attorney who can provide an aggressive defense against copyright claims.

To learn more about the best way to respond to an illegitimate copyright claim, keep reading this blog.

Attorney Richard Liebowitz Accused of Being a Copyright Troll

Richard Liebowitz has been called a “copyright troll” by federal judges based on the volume of lawsuits he has filed. These lawsuits often involve flimsy copyright claims alleging that the defendant has infringed on the plaintiff’s IP rights by publishing a photo or video. In a lot of these cases, the plaintiff may have no intention of actually going to trial. Instead, they simply want to pressure the defendant with the threat of costly litigation in state or federal court so that the defendant will pay a cash settlement. This is not how the law is supposed to work.

Richard Liebowitz Loses PopMatters Copyright Claim

In Glen Craig v. PopMatters Media, Inc. (N.D. Ill.), the defendants raised objections to personal jurisdiction and venue in the Southern District of Illinois. Richard Liebowitz, the attorney representing the plaintiff, then voluntarily dismissed the action and refiled in the Northern District of Illinois. The defendants then filed a motion for attorney’s fees in the first action, as was their right under the law.

The following day, Liebowitz filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in the second action, presumably so that he would not be ordered to pay attorney’s fees in the first action. The defendants again moved for attorney’s fees, and Liebowitz opposed by arguing that no attorney’s fees should be awarded because the dismissal was “without prejudice.” The court did not find Liebowitz’s argument persuasive: in an order dated March 23, 2020, the court granted the defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees against Liebowitz and his client. The court reasoned that “[t]he privilege of dismissing a federal suit without prejudice to refiling may be used only once,” and Liebowitz “used that privilege when he dismissed the Southern District case, so his dismissal of this case operated as a with-prejudice dismissal, an adjudication on the merits.”

Tauler Smith LLP Has History of Defeating Copyright Trolls

The PopMatters order marks yet another legal setback for Richard Liebowitz, who now faces the increased specter of having to pay attorney’s fee awards to the defendants. Tauler Smith LLP is a California law firm that focuses on intellectual property claims, and we have a history of winning Liebowitz’ copyright claims. In fact, our experienced Los Angeles copyright lawyers have previously argued to the Southern District of New York that an award of attorney’s fees in cases brought by Liebowitz would serve dual objectives: (1) protecting our clients’ rights in defense of a dishonest copyright claim, and (2) deterring copyright trolls like Richard Liebowitz from their unrepentant abuse of judicial resources.

The truth is that the U.S. Copyright Act was not created to protect the rights of mercenaries like Richard Liebowitz who threaten law-abiding website operators with DMCA takedown notices and copyright demand letters. The idea behind the federal law was to provide legitimate copyright holders with the ability to file a lawsuit when their intellectual property rights have, in fact, been infringed.

Contact the Los Angeles Copyright Defense Attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP

If you have been sued by Richard Liebowitz or any other copyright trolls, the Los Angeles copyright defense attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP can help you defend your claims. Call 310-590-3927 or email us to schedule a free consultation.

Firm Obtains Early Dismissal Copyright Infringement Claim Brought by Attorney Richard Liebowitz and Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal dismisses “selfie” copyright case against Paper Mag after legal maneuvering goes awry.

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Five years after she came to national attention for identifying as black woman while being of European ancestry and having no verifiable African ancestry, Rachel Dolezal is again at the heart of a legal controversy. This time, Dolezal filed suit for copyright infringement after Paper Magazine included Dolezal’s public Instagram post as part of their news coverage. 

Last summer, Dolezal announced on Instagram that she’s bisexual. Among the pop culture and celebrity media that covered the June 15 announcement was New York-based Paper Magazine, which published a story, including Dolezal’s Instagram selfie which was part of her announcement.

Three months later, a lawsuit filed on behalf of New York company Polaris Images accused Paper Magazine of copyright infringement based on an alleged “exclusive license” to market all images of Dolezal.

The Subject Image in the litigation.

The Sept. 3 lawsuit was filed by New York attorney Richard Liebowitz, who was recently called a “copyright troll” by a federal judge due to his prolific litigation history — filing over 1,100 copyright infringement lawsuits over the past three years .

The lawsuit against Paper Magazine sought all profits earned from publishing the photo, plus $150,000 in damages — the maximum allowed under federal law for willful infringement of a copyrighted work.

This time, however, Robert Tauler, Paper Magazine’s Los Angeles attorney, found the way to stop Liebowitz’s deluge of copyright lawsuits stemming from social media posts.

“Our team was able to find a legal loophole in Mr. Liebowitz’s modus operandi, which forced Liebowitz to backtrack and name Dolezal as the plaintiff instead of the original plaintiff, Polaris,” Tauler said. “However, plaintiff’s lawyers can’t switch horses in the middle of a copyright lawsuit, and when we challenged Mr. Liebowitz’s second attempt he was forced to dismiss the case before our motion to dismiss was even heard by the court.”

Liebowitz dropped the lawsuit on Jan. 29, and apologized to U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla, explaining that the switch was just a misunderstanding – an explanation Tauler expects to challenge when seeking attorneys fees for his client.

“I believe the loophole we exposed can put an end to endless filing of copyright lawsuits like this one,” Tauler said. “Some copyright attorneys make a living exploiting technical aspects of the law that do not advance any of the objectives of the Copyright Act, let alone provide any benefit to society. Lawsuits like this hurt the legal profession by flooding our courts and draining the resources of legitimate businesses.”

A copy of the lawsuit and Liebowitz’s apology letter to the court can be found here.