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Author Topic: Corbis v Starr  (Read 4620 times)

Lettered

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Corbis v Starr
« on: February 15, 2010, 03:37:02 PM »
Regarding Corbis v Starr  http://oh.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.%5CFDCT%5CNOH%5C2009%5C20090902_0000790.NOH.htm/qx

This case seems a lot like the typical case here, except that the images were probably registered, making things a bit more complicated for the defendants (compared to cases where images aren't registered).

The way I read it the court found the website owner vicariously liable and the website designer directly liable. No big surprise to anyone who has read over the material here on Mathew's site. No big deal as I think the the more important issues are damages and attorney fees.

It appears that the court didnt rule on the issue of willfullness and damgages (including atty fees), pending a resolution of "issues".  One of the "issues" , it appears to me, is that willfullness on the part of the website owner cannot be established (because it clearly wasnt willfull, in my opinion).  To complicate matters for Corbis, it even looks as if they may even be having trouble showing willfullness on the part of the web site designer.  


Anyway, I was wondering if you had been following this case, Oscar, and if you know when a ruling on willfullness and damages is expected.

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Corbis v Starr
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2010, 05:19:38 PM »
Dear Lettered:

I am aware of this case, but as you correctly stated, nothing has really happened yet.  All the court said was that Corbis proved it owned the copyright to the images and that both the end user and designer were jointly responsible. Had we been the attorneys, we would have saved our clients substantial fees and conceded to all of that as it was clearly within the law.

What is important about the case is that it allowed the claim to go forward  as to each individual photos even though it was registered as a collection.  It still is unclear whether the court means to award separate damage for each picture.  That we need to see the result on damages; I think it will be error to do so.  

On the wilfullness issue, this decision is positive in that the court says since no one knows where the images exactly came from and Corbis cannot prove that it had a watermark on it, the issue of wilfullness has to go to trial. More importantly, the court rejected Corbis' argument that the defendants should have known it was copyrighted and therefore acted willfully.   The judge said in that case there would never be innocent infringement.    

So the case boils down to damages - what else is new.  That's what I have been trumpeting on this site for nearly two years now.  (I hope that the defendants' lawyers made a plausible settlement offer prior to litigation as that will help on the attorney's fees issue.)  

The parties have a mediation conference scheduled for March and a trial set for April. The defendants need to do their homework and hire an expert on "value" as well as try to establish that "fair market value" and not Corbis' inflated pricing scheme should prevail. I would expect that the parties will likely settle during the mediation conference.  I will keep you posted.

Lettered

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Re: Corbis v Starr
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2010, 09:30:09 AM »
Thanks Oscar.  You are the greatest!

Its nice to have a source of complete and accurate information like yours.  I have been surprised by the quality of other information on this subject from various attorneys on the internet which is at best incomplete/misleading and at worst just outright wrong.  I saw where one atty giving his conclusions on Corbis v Starr say that "Claiming ignorance of the source of materials used on a website you own, designed or host won't help you."  It seems to me that "Claiming ignorance of the source of materials" very much helped both the owner and the designer in that case.

Attorneys know that we laypeople tend to cringe at the dreaded word "LIABLE" so why aren't the attorneys out there who are commenting on this issue (present company excluded of course) giving the rest of the story, which is low damages in cases of innocent infringement, and even greater limitations on what a prevailing plaintiff can recover if the material wasnt registered before infringement?

Oscar Michelen

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Re: Corbis v Starr
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 01:05:46 PM »
Thanks for your  kind words Lettered.  I think the main problem is that most lawyers won't look past the small value of each claim independently and are just giving short shrift to folks who may be liable for a few thousand dollars. They neither realize or care that many of these businesses can't afford to pay two, three or four thousand dollars, so they just blow them off by saying "you're liable, you have no defense."

 

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