Philpot v. WKMS/Murray State University

Background information

Larry Philpot is a photographer who took a photo of Willie Nelson and published it on Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license, which requires a licensee of the photo to reference the license and provide a photographer attribution ("Photo by Larry Philpot,”). Philpot claimed that WKMS/Murray State University used the photo on its Facebook page and website,, without proper attribution or authorization and filed a complaint for copyright infringement. WKMS is a radio station owned and operated by the University. After filings on both sides, Philpot amended his complaint to only seek relief against WKMS. WKMS filed a motion to dismiss.

Case summary

The court dismissed the case on Eleventh Amendment grounds, holding that Murray University is a state agency entitled to sovereign immunity and that WKMS is financially and operationally dependent on the University, so the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the case.