What to do if you receive a CopyCat Legal demand letter alleging that your company committed copyright infringement? You have a few options: (a) call us to discuss /attempt to resolve the matter amicably (we don’t bite); (b) hire competent legal counsel to represent your company and respond to the allegations; (c) ignore the issue entirely and hope the problem goes away; or (d) blame the photographer/copyright holder for your infringement and then proceed to antagonize the attorneys at CopyCat Legal by daring them to file a lawsuit. If you think Options C and D are the way to go, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Speaking of Brooklyn, take a wild guess which of the above choices Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best Inc. made… first when it received a letter from CopyCat Legal (on behalf of our client Prepared Food Photos, Inc.) and then after a lawsuit was filed. If you guessed Options C and D, you sir or madam are correct.
Prepared Food Photos, Inc. is one of the many copyright holders who trust CopyCat Legal to protect/enforce its intellectual property rights. Over the years, Prepared Food Photos, Inc. has amassed a library of 20,000+ professional food photographs that it licenses to ad agencies, web designers, etc.
After discovering that Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best Inc. (a seller of homemade Italian food products) was using one of Prepared Food Photos’ photographs to advertise/market its own lasagna products, Prepared Food Photos asked CopyCat Legal to intervene. Here’s the photograph at issue:
© Prepared Food Photos, Inc.
We tried multiple times to resolve the matter pre-suit. Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best, however, expressed no interest in resolving the matter and resorted instead to blaming Prepared Food Photos for not including a watermark on its photograph so that Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best would know not to steal it. That type of victim-blaming mentality didn’t sit well with our client, and it chose to pursue a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Prepared Food Photos, Inc. v. Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best Inc., Case No. 1:22-cv-04196).
Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best Inc. failed to respond to the lawsuit and, on January 23, 2023, the Court entered a Default Judgment against it in the amount of $75,792.50 for its copyright infringement of Prepared Food Photos, Inc.’s photograph. The Court awarded our client $71,928.00 in statutory damages, $697.00 in costs, and $3,167.50 in attorneys’ fees. You can read a copy of that Order below:
This may not be immediately obvious, but refusing to take responsibility for your actions, engaging in victim-blaming, daring CopyCat Legal to file a lawsuit, and then ignoring that lawsuit may… possibly… perhaps… not be a great idea. This lawsuit was an expensive lesson for Silver Star of Brooklyn / Brooklyn’s Best Inc. – but hopefully a good cautionary tale for others.
Important lessons: (1) Don’t steal someone else’s intellectual property – photographers earn their living from selling/licensing their work and you are taking money out of their pocket by not paying a fair price. (2) Before you dare CopyCat Legal to sue you, maybe do some research to confirm whether we’ll call your bluff (hint… we will). (3) If you’re a professional photographer whose work was infringed, it helps to have experienced legal counsel like CopyCat Legal fighting to protect your intellectual property!