Philpot v. Music Times LLC

Background information

Larry Philpot is a freelance photographer who photographed musicians John Mellencamp and Norah Jones and made the photographs available under a Creative Commons License. Philpot alleged that Music Times infringed his copyright by publishing, copying, and displaying the photograph on their website,, without proper attribution to Philpot and his website. Philpot sought statutory damages in the amount of $150,000 per infringement of the copyright (but no less than $30,000 per infringement), attorneys' fees and costs, as well as actual damages "if Plaintiff so elects." Music Times failed to appear through counsel.

Case summary

A default judgment was entered against Music Times for failing to appear. The Magistrate Judge provided a recommendation and report for a $5000 statutory damages award given that Philpot did not pay any licensing fees (the stautory damages award is normally decided in relation to the costs of the licensing fees) and Music Times infringed Philpot's copyrights only twice. The Magistrate Judge suggested no attorneys fees award was warrranted given that Philpot did not provide any documentation to support his claim for fees, but recommended that he be compensated $400 in costs (which would cover the filing fee in this action). The District Court Judge adopted the recommendation.