Photographer Sues Software Company For Copyright Infringement

Photography company Simon J. Burchett Photography filed a complaint against Pieoneers Software for copyright infringement. Plaintiff claims that the defendant violated the Copyright Act, Copyright Revisions Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The plaintiff notified Pieoneers multiple times about the alleged infringement. The defendant “responded with a litany of excuses,” and refused to cease and desist infringing, leading the plaintiff to file suit.

Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that an image that it owns the copyright for appeared on the defendant’s webpage. The webpage was created by Stage 3, which the plaintiff alleged was the defendant’s agent.

Burchett claimed that Pieoneers “copied, distributed, and publicly displayed plaintiff’s Copyrighted Image with no license or authority.” He further said Pieoneers used the image for purely commercial purposes. Burchett stated that the defendant failed to license this image for its use. They added that the defendant’s use of the image was not for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research,” nor was its use of the image transformative. Rather, Burchett states that the image was used in its “entirety” without a license.

Burchett also claimed Pieoneers violated the DMCA because this image was used online without a license or other identifying information. Burchett embeds copyright management information (CMI) when he distributes his images, such as “title of the image, author, label, and copyright owner.” He said that the defendant removed this information, thus publishing and displaying this image without the proper CMI. Burchett said this conduct was done to “conceal the infringement.”

The plaintiff has sought restitution of unlawful proceeds, an award for compensatory and statutory damages, an award for costs and fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, and other relief as determined by the court.  

The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York. Burchett is represented by Garbarini FitzGerald.