The plaintiff in this copyright lawsuit is a professional photographer from Austin, Texas. His work is focused on architectural and landscape photography.
One defendant, Lynn Boolman Auto Sales (“Boolman”), is a used car dealership in Portland, Indiana.
The other defendant, Carsforsale.com, is an online auto marketplace operating out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It seems from the Complaint (below) that both defendants made an unauthorized use of one of the plaintiff’s landscape photographs, including cropping the photograph to remove the photographer’s signature.
It is not clear whether there is any other connection between the two defendants besides both using the photograph. Jurisdiction over Carsforsale.com seems tenuous. At least from the Complaint and related Exhibit (below), I don’t see any action that Carsforsale.com took in Indiana, either if they first posted the photograph online or if Boolman posted it to their website.
In addition to the Copyright Infringement claim, the Complaint also includes a claim for Removal of Copyright Management Information, based on the cropping of the author’s signature. However, one of the more interesting and unusual aspects of the lawsuit is the plaintiff’s third claim for Addition of False Copyright Management Information, based on the car dealership overlaying its own logo and contact information onto the (cropped) plaintiff’s photograph. Presumably, the dealership will maintain that the information added to the photograph does not identify the author or copyright owner, and thus doesn’t qualify as “copyright management information” (see definition here).
The plaintiff made prior unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the defendants in December 2021 and January 2022. Finding no satisfactory resolution, the plaintiff now seeks the intervention of the Court. Photography copyright lawsuits often settle quickly, but stay tuned for updates.
Stross v. Lynn Boolman Auto Sales Limited Liability Company et al
Court Case Number: 3:23-cv-00061-DRL-MGG
File Date: January 25, 2023
Plaintiff: Alexander Bayonne Stross
Plaintiff Counsel: Evan A. Andersen of SRIPLAW, P.A.
Defendants: Lynn Boolman Auto Sales Limited Liability Company, Carsforsale.com, Inc.
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Removal of Copyright Management Information, Addition of False Copyright Management Information
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: Damon R. Leichty
Referred To: Michael G. Gotsch, Sr.