Photographer Loses Part of Copyright Win in Verdict Reversal (1)
Art Law

Photographer Loses Part of Copyright Win in Verdict Reversal (1)

Jury found willfulness infringement, awarded plaintiff $450,000 Ninth Circuit sent case back to trial court A photographer could lose most of a $450,000 jury award because he didn’t establish that a business owner willfully infringed his copyrights by hiring a web developer who used unlicensed images, an appeals court ruled. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit April 16 reversed part of a jury verdict in favor of photographer Jim Erickson in his 2013 lawsuit against Kraig Rudinger Kast. Erickson failed to show Kast financially benefited from the infringement or went beyond negligence into willfulness, the appeals court said, remanding those issues to the lower court. The decision highlights the importance of jury instructions. The Ninth Circuit said the trial judge erred by telling the jury it could find willfulness if it concluded that Kast should have known about the infringement. The jury had awarded Erickson maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work based on that finding. Without willfulness, statutory damages peak at $30,000 per work. The damages amount could fall substantially on remand if the trial court fails to find Kast was “willfully blind,” acted with “reckless disregard,” or actually knew of the infringement. The […]

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