Pierce v. Lifezette, Inc.

Background information

Tim Pierce is a photographer who uploaded a photo to Flickr, which was available under a Creative Commons license that requires users to give the photographer credit and indicate if any changes were made to the photo. Lifezette owns and operates the website “www.lifezette.com” and used Pierce’s photos without attribution or permission and altered the photos on multiple occasions. Pierce filed a copyright infringement complaint against and served Lifezette, but Lifezette never responded. Pierce filed a motion for default judgment and requested “at least $75,000 in statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504," "at least $200,000 in statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 1203," and (3) "full costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees . . . under 17 U.S.C. §§ 505 and 1203."

Case summary

The court granted default judgment for copyright infringement because Pierce’s complaint established that he owned a valid copyright to the photo and Lifezette copied original aspects of the photo; the court also granted default judgment for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim because Pierce established that there was copyright management information in the photo and Lifezette removed the information from the photo. The court awarded Pierce $139,000 in statutory damages and held that Lifezette is permanently enjoined from using the photo without abiding by the terms of the license.