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Guaranteed Copyright Failure, Claim You Forgot You Erased Rights on an Image

Oppenheimer v. Johnson, No. 1:19-CV-00240-MR, 2020 WL 4227472 (W.D.N.C. July 23, 2020).

On August 13, 2019, Plaintiff Oppenheimer sued Cullowhee, LLC for copyright infringement. Plaintiff is a photographer and makes his photos available online for print and licensing through his website. All of his photos display his copyright information.

Defendants wanted to advertise their property for rent near Western Carolina University and uploaded Plaintiff’s photograph to 2 URLs for that purpose. Defendants removed Plaintiff’s copyright and notice prior to the upload. Clearly, Defendants knew the photos were copyrighted and disregarded that uploading here would be infringement. Thus, Defendants who defaulted in this matter, clearly their actions were willful.

Moreover, the DMCA prohibits a person, to “distribute” work “knowing that copyright management information has been removed or altered”. The DMCA requires that the action be taken by a person “knowing or … having reasonable grounds to know that it will induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement.”

Thus, the court found that their removal and uploading was proof enough to find for the Plaintiff.

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