Adlife Communications Files $20,000,000 Copyright Lawsuit


October 21, 2017 – Adlife Communications made a 20 million dollar demand against multiple defendants in copyright lawsuit filed by Higbee & Associates in Illinois. The demand amount is amount is quite unusual for a couple of reasons.

First, Adlife’s photo collection is primarily stock photography of food. Market comparables for these images are in the ten dollar price range. Adlife is relying on the ability to get a large disgorgement of profits from what could be hundreds of grocery stores who benefit from the unlicensed use of the images.  It is theoretically possible.  If Adlife gets anything close to this, it will likely be a record award for stock photography. It will also embolden one of the more notorious trolls, Joel Albrizio, the CEO of Adlife Communications.

The second shocking thing is that prior to this, we have not seen an Adlife demand more than $20,000 and most demands were around $5,000. A leap in demand amounts from $20,000 to $20,000,000 can be described as a quantum leap or a pipe dream.

Attorney Mathew Higbee was listed on the complaint as representing Adlife. Higbee & Associates attorney Naomi Sarega was later added to the case.

The complaint also makes contract claims against one of the defendants. An answer is yet to be filed by any of the defendants.


We have seen copyright letters and lawsuits that make it clear that Adlife is using multiple law firms.   Adlife has used Higbee & Associates to file other lawsuits on behalf of Adlife. Adlife has also use the Liebowitz Law Firm to file cases in New York. Adlife, who originally was doing its own copyright enforcement, is definitely becoming more litigious. An analysis of some those cases will be forthcoming.

If you have been sued by Adlife or have received a demand letter from anyone claiming that you used a photo without a license, read this

Feel free to post comments or questions below.

4 thoughts on “Adlife Communications Files $20,000,000 Copyright Lawsuit”

  1. I am getting harassed by Adlife Communications and Higbee and associates for using 3 pictures of fruit that my former web developer put on my restaurant’s blog. They are asking for $3,000. My new web developer removed the images right away. I told them to contact my old web developer since he was the one who used them, but Higbee keeps contacting me about it as says I am responsible. Can they sue me if I was not the one who placed on my site?

    1. An individual can be help liable for copyright infringement when done in the furtherance of a business in a couple of circumstances. The most common ones are when the business is a sole proprietorship or when a corporation or LLC has had its corporate shield pierced by the the copyright holder. If certain formalities are not maintained, the copyright holder can argue that the corporation is just the alter-ego of the individual and, therefore, the individual should be personally liable for the acts of the business. If you have assets worth protecting, you should contact a lawyer. Please feel free to post follow-up questions.

  2. Adlife is asking me to pay $3250 for a picture of lasagna that we used on our online and in store menu. It is a typical run of the mill photo that was about 3 inch big. Can they copyright lasagna. Isn’t lasagna in the public domain? Also can I argue that my 3 inch use of the image was diminimis?

  3. While some photos of lasagna may be in the public domain (most likely if they were published prior to 1978 without a copyright notice), there is nothing that says a photos of lasagna, Italian food or any other subject matter automatically become public domain. As for the de minimis argument, like in many things, it is the the size, but how you used it that matters most. So, if you only used a small irrelevant portion of the photo, you might win on de mimimis, however, if you use all of the photo, but just in a small size, you will likely still be liable for infringement of Adlife’s photo. However, if Adlife charges less for a small photo, your damages might be less.

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