A photographer has won a lawsuit against BuzzFeed which some are hailing as a landmark case, after the entertainment platform removed the photographer’s copyright from the images in question.
It is understood that a BuzzFeed writer took the image from an article by the New York Post, who photographer Gregory Mango had previously licensed his image to. In using the image, the writer removed Mango’s name and instead credited the law firm that the article he was writing concerned. The writer alleges the law firm recommended he used the photo from the New York Post article, which is how he came to credit the image to the firm.
Upon spotting the lack of credit, Mango launched legal action against BuzzFeed. He cited usage without permission, as well as removing his copyright management information, which is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
BuzzFeed counteracted the claims, on the grounds that “there was no evidence that [BuzzFeed] knew its conduct would lead to future, third-party infringement.” However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last week shot down that notion, awarding Mango $3,750 for the copyright infringement, as well as $5,000 in statutory damages for violation of the DMCA. He also received a $65,132.50 reimbursement for his legal fees.
What this means is it’s getting harder for platforms such as BuzzFeed to turn a blind eye to the consequences of knowingly removing a photographer’s photo credit.
Speaking to PetaPixel, NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher said:
The NPPA is very pleased with the Second Circuit’s opinion regarding the CMI provisions of the DMCA in what it called a ‘relatively novel issue’ and ‘a question of first impression for this Court,’ which will greatly alleviate the burden of proof for photographers and require users to exercise greater due diligence when appropriating images. As we have often said, copyright is ‘complicated’ and takes a great deal of work to bring a claim, with attorney fees and costs often dwarfing the award as is the case here.