Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Smackdown Between Amazon & Copyright Troll?

Copyright Into Infinity
 (Photo credit: Post-Software)
A California-based photo agency has sued Amazon-owned social network Goodreads for copyright infringement after a site group member allegedly posted a celebrity image without permission, the Web site reported this week.

BWP, Inc. filed suit in Los Angeles seeking $150,000 under the damages provision of The Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 504(c)] after a young bookophile purportedly posted an image of hunky IM5 boy band member Dalton Rappatoni without authorization on a Goodreads group page. The group at issue seems to consist of four teen-aged girls who think Rappatoni is dreamy, so it's unclear how deep the pockets would be for the plaintiff to recover on its claim.

The paidcontent article raises the possibility that the lawsuit may be an example of "copyright trolling," a practice that Internet users and, increasingly, some judges, find offensive, in which copyright holders employ software to search the Internet for violations and sue bloggers and individuals with impunity to force short-money settlements. Troll companies often ally themselves with law firms for a contingency fee.

"TUOL" is not positioned to comment on the facts of this particular case, but would issue a caveat that any entity backed by a colossus such as Amazon is no pushover. Look for Goodreads to seek shelter behind the Digital Millenium Copyright Act ("DMCA") [17 U.S.C. sec. 1201 et seq.] that allows Internet Service Providers to escape liability by swiftly blocking access to infringing material posted by third parties upon receiving notice from the copyright holder.

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