Money for nothing

Manhattan view, June 2011 - 12

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Dead horse?  You’d think so.  Copyright statutory damages, that is.  We’ve been there, and done that, right?

Not according to Larry Zerner, who says the calls are still coming in:

Because my firm will sometimes handle copyright infringement cases on a contingency fee basis, I often get phone calls that go something like this.

Caller: I would like to sue someone for copyright infringement.

Me: Okay.  What did they do?

Caller: They took a picture of mine and put it on their website.

Me: Are you a professional photographer?

Caller: No.  But I registered the photograph with the Copyright Office. So now they owe me $150,000.  Right? . . . Right?

This seems to be where the confusion comes in.

Well, see, that just means people aren’t reading the right blogs before picking up the phone!  More:

[M]any people assume that I will jump at the chance to represent them on a contingency fee basis, because I will certainly be able to get a jury to award damages of $150,000 The problem is that they are not looking at the case realistically.  Reader, ask yourself this question. If you were on a jury and had to decide statutory damages on a case where the sole infringement was that a photograph was put up on a website, are you going to give that photographer $150,000.  Probably not.

He’s right, of course.  Except when he’s wrong.  But, no, he’s right.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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