Philpot v LM Communications

Background information

Plaintiff is a professional photographer who posted photos online under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Upon discovery that the defendant used one of his photographs without attribution, plaintiff sent a cease and desist letter. Defendant removed the image from its site. Three years later, defendant used a copy of the photograph on its website without attribution and plaintiff sued in federal court for infringement and improper removal of copyright management information.

Case summary

Defendant argued that plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the infringement claim should be denied under the doctrine of laches, which is an equitable relief granted when an unreasonable delay causes unfair prejudice. Defendant also argued that the fair use doctrine was applicable to their use of the photograph. In 2018, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, finding copyright infringement as a matter of law. In so doing, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that it was unfairly prejudiced by plaintiff’s delay in filing suit, as well as defendant’s fair use argument. The court rejected the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright management information claim, holding there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate the information was removed.

Attribution Photograph