Controversial attorney Richard Liebowitz has had a rough go of it in recent weeks, but that’s apparently not slowing down his relentless pursuit of more copyright-infringement lawsuits.
Sanctioned by two federal judges during the first week of May, Liebowitz — who has been called a “copyright troll” by multiple judges — on May 8 filed a lawsuit against station owner Midwest Communications asserting his specialty: a claim of copyright-infringement, brought on behalf of a photographer.
This time the plaintiff is Hawthorne, N.J.-based photographer Christopher Sadowski, whose image of a New York Police Department vehicle, originally licensed to the New York Post for a story the newspaper ran about crime statistics, ended up on the website of Midwest-owned “Hot96 FM” WSTO Evansville, IN.
The Midwest Communications lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, also accuses the broadcaster of “removal and/or alteration of copyright management information” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In that complaint, Liebowitz asserts that a photographer credit line that appeared in the original New York Post story was knowingly and willingly removed by Midwest — and that its presence in the original newspaper story should have made it clear that the image was protected.
Liebowitz is seeking damages of up to $150,000 for the alleged infringement, along with up to $25,000 (and at least $2,500) on the copyright management complaint.
In that case, Liebowitz contends that Hubbard broke the law when it ran an online story that included an image of a dog running through a sprinkler. That picture, the lawsuit says, was copyrighted by plaintiff Carolyn Wohr, a Texas-based photographer.
“Hubbard Radio infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in the Photograph by reproducing and publicly displaying the Photograph on the Website,” the lawsuit says. “Hubbard Radio is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the Photograph.”
Liebowitz has filed an array of similar copyright-infringement actions in recent years, often against media companies. In February he sued Salem Media Group and ESPN, and in January he went after Bonneville International and Liberman Broadcasting.
The Hubbard lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. It seeks damages of up to $150,000 plus attorney’s fees.
According to a report by Law360, Liebowitz has filed dozens of infringement cases just since March 11, when the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. Over the last four years he’s filed more than 2,000 such cases, many of them against media companies.