Plaintiff Hillary White, a Maine artist whose designs 1980s redux-inspired T-shirts, filed a complaint against Amazon.com, Inc. (Hillary White v. Amazon.com, Inc 2:19-cv-09377-FMO-AGR) for copyright infringement, as well as vicarious and/or contributory copyright infringement. White stated that her livelihood is dependent on being able to license her artwork and sell items that have her designs. The complaint alleges that White’s artwork and designs have been ‘misappropriated and incorporated into unauthorized apparel and personal accessory items’ sold by Amazon.
White has filed Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to Amazon for the infringing products, which were ignored by Amazon until the suit. White believes Amazon has infringed upon her artworks, “The Bodacious Period,” “Street Cats,” “Fanny Pack,” “Cretaceous Nights,” “Bury Me With MY Cats,” “My Eyes Are Up Here,” “Kittycorn Pizza rainbows,” “Golden Believer,” “Wolf Beach,” “Most Meowgical Sweater,” “Yet Another Skull Shirt,” “I Larva You,” and “Bathe Atop a Mountain of Skulls” without her knowledge or consent. The complaint explains how each work of art previously mentioned has been infringed by Amazon. White discovered certain entities and individuals had misappropriated her designs and were selling apparel and personal accessories with illegal copies of the design on Amazon.
The complaint claims that “[i]n total, between, April 2, 2019 and August 24, 2019, Plaintiff submitted 14 DMCA Notices to Amazon reporting a total of 205 links offering Infringing BP Product.” White had to repeatedly submit DMCA notices because as listings were taken down new ones would appear. White noticed repeat vendor offenders, including: LiLy Store, Padida, ZHDSTEE, and YYFESX.
White requested payment of damages for the hours spent identifying infringing material on Amazon and working on DMCA takedown notices, which could have been spent creating artwork; the financial loss she has suffered from past and current sales of infringing products; and reputation damage from the inferior quality of infringing products. The complaint alleges that because Amazon has failed to respond to the DMCA notices in a timely manner, it cannot be protected under DMCA’s Safe Harbor provisions, which aim to protect service providers. In accordance with Section 504(c)(2) of the Copyright Act, Defendants are subject to pay up to $150,000.00 per infringement and liability to statutory damages. The complaint also states that the Plaintiff is entitled to disgorgement of Defendants’ profits both directly and indirectly attributed to the infringements.