Robert Caplin photographs Darren Criss from Glee about his Broadway debut and puts them on his website. Perez Hilton, AKA Mario Lavandeira Jr to his parents not only swipes 14 of the photos from Robert’s website and places them on his gossip website but also in classy fashion places PEREZHILTON.COM as the new watermark. The day after Robert finds out about this he called Perez to talk about it. Perez apologized and said that he would take the photos down. Well, Perez lied. As a result, Robert is suing senor Mario for $150,000 for each of the 14 photo infringements. Read more at the Courthousenews.com
What’s interesting about this story is that Robert isn’t suing Perez just because his photos were on perezhilton.com. He’s suing because he lied. If Perez would have just pulled them down he wouldn’t have been slapped with a lawsuit. The other part of this story, of course, is the fact that Perez’s watermark made it look like he owned all the photographs. In addition, Perez hyperlinked the photographs to another website that (in my opinion) most likely helped Perez’s cash flow. So Perez was attempting to make money off of Robert’s photographs.
Perez is going to lose this case. It’s pretty cut and dry. Perez used Robert’s photograph in a manner in which he was not licensed to use. All of Robert’s photographs on his website have his name on them so it’s going to be hard for Perez to talk about ignorance of any kind. The only thing that he could try and do is argue that since his website is editorial he can put any photograph on his site. He may also say that he is protected by the Fair Use Clause but sadly that argument will fall short as well. The problem is going to still be the watermark. You can’t take something that someone created and deceive the public concerning ownership by putting your name on it.
I’m looking forward to seeing the result of this case because this is going to be huge in light of Pinterest and copyright infringement.
Leave a comment about your thoughts.