June 1, 2018 – Getting served with a copyright lawsuit is very stressful. Defending a copyright lawsuit is also expensive. But failing to take them seriously (starting with ignoring demand letters) can lead to big problems. Consider recent examples of two different defendants getting hit with huge default judgments.
Default judgments result when defendants fail to answer a complaint, which is the first document filed in a lawsuit. Failing to answer a complaint allows the copyright holder to request for a default judgment.
The first case (Restoration Hardware, Inc. et al v. Lighting Design Wholesalers, Inc. et al) involved the use of 13 images owed by the popular furniture store. The defendant was allegedly using the copyrighted images to promote its versions of similar products. US. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, Katherine Bolan Forrest, ruled ”[P]laintiffs have successfully stated a claim that the . . . Defendants infringed plaintiffs’ copyrights with respect to each of the thirteen Registered Works, and as the . . . Defendants are in default, their infringement may be deemed willful. Plaintiffs seek damages of $100,000.00 for each infringed copyrighted work, for a total of $1,300,000.00. That amount is within the range contemplated for willful infringement in the Copyright Act, and the Court concludes that it is just and proportionate to defendants’ alleged violations. Accordingly, there is no need for an inquest hearing on the issue of damages, and the Court hereby awards plaintiffs $1,300,000 in statutory copyright damages.”
The second involved photographer Michael Grecco, represented by The Law Firm of HIgbee & Associates, and the fashion blog site, FashionIlluminati.com. Higbee & Associates took to Twitter to boast about the $48,000 judgment they received for Grecco as a result of FashionIlluminati.com using Grecco’s copyrighted photo of the singer/actress Cher. Fashionista’s failure to file an answer and defend the claim gave the court no reason to reject Higbee’s claim that defendant engaged in willful copyright infringement. The default judgment was discussed extensively at https://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/higbee-letter-lawsuits-forum/judge-awarded-higbee-associates-$48-000-for-use-of-1-photo!!! Making things worse for the defendant in this case, Higbee named them personally. The case was Michael Grecco Productions, Inc. v. Monica Dodge, DBA FashionIlluminati.com, Case No. 2:17-cv-02313-JCM-NJK
If you have copyright demand letters or have been sued for violating copyright, make sure to review the useful tips: http://copyright-demand-letter.com/get-free-legal-advice/