Lisa Coppola, LLC v. Higbee

Background information

Coppola LLC is a law firm that publishes educational blog plots about changes in the law. In their blog, they posted five images that were allegedly made available online free of charge by defendants. Coppola LLC received a letter from defendants demanding a $9200 payment for use of the images. Coppola took the images down and attempted to reach a settlement, but defendants threatened litigation, seeking up to $150,000 in damages. Coppola filed this complaint seeking declaratory judgment that their use of the images was not copyright infringement. The complaint also claimed RICO violations and asserted that defendants were using unfair and deceptive business practices to make a profit off of trying to enforce copyright over photographs made freely available for use. Some of the defendants moved to dismiss for a variety of claims, including failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted, failure to file a RICO case statement, insufficient service of process, and lack of personal jurisdiction.

Case summary

The personal jurisdiction arguments were unavailing given that the company was British but sufficiently availed itself of contacts in New York (where this case was filed). The court dismissed Coppola's RICO claims because Coppola failed to file the requisite supporting documents (RCS). After reviewing the plausibility of claims alleged, the court found that because the defendant website had displayed "clear, prominent, and unambiguous language of the license requiring attribution," Coppola has not plausibly alleged that the defendants' conduct was materially misleading. The court subsequently dismissed the deceptive acts claim and the declaratory judgment claim against the defendants who challenged it. The court denied defendants motion to for attorneys fees.