Film Studio, Streaming Services Sued over Use of Map in a Film

On January 2, plaintiff Victor Baker, doing business as One Treasure Limited, filed a complaint against Penguin Random House, Amazon Technologies (doing business as Prime Video and Amazon Prime) and Netflix (Victor Baker, d/b/a One Treasure Ltd. v. Penguin Random House LLC, Amazon Technologies, Inc., and Netflix, Inc. 1:20-cv-00004-RP). The complaint was filed in the Western District of Texas. Plaintiff is represented by Blazier Christensen Browder & Virr.

One Treasure Limited creates, produces and markets “antique-style, watercolor maps of the Caribbean islands and other locations around the World. These maps are primarily sold as large printed copies of their respective originals to tourists in the areas they depict.” Baker owns the copyright to the map “Curacao,” which is the map in question in the copyright infringement suit.

The three defendants are involved in the unauthorized use of One Treasure Limited’s Curacao map in the film “Lay the Favorite.” Penguin Random House’s film unit, Random House Films, helped produce the film, which starred Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The film is about sports betting and part of the film takes place on the Caribbean island of Curacao. “Plaintiff’s map of Curacao is displayed prominently in several scenes, tacked to the wall of the office in which gambling operations take place.” These scenes involve two major film characters. “In this regard, the map plays a significant role in the movie, emphasizing the storyline that the characters have located their gambling operation in Curacao.” Amazon via Amazon Prime and Prime Video offers “Lay the Favorite.” Netflix has previously and as of November 2019 also offered “Lay the Favorite.”  Therefore, the complaint alleged that Random House, Amazon, and Netflix are each liable for copyright infringement.

One Treasure Ltd. has sought relief from damages for the copyright infringement of its map in the film and any profits made by said infringement. One Treasure Ltd. alleged that Defendants willfully infringed and knew or should have known that it “owned the map from the contact information in its bottom-left corner because his contact information is visible in the still images from the movie.” The complaint stated that Random House Films should have asked permission to use the map in the film. One Treasure Ltd. claimed that Defendants are “joint tortfeasors” and One Treasure Ltd., therefore, should be awarded full damages and Defendants should be held liable. One Treasure Ltd. has also sought injunctive relief.