Copyright infringement attorney Richard Liebowitz is tearing through the month of September, as he files three separate lawsuits for alleged unauthorized reproduction of photographs. As usual, his plaintiffs, professional photographers, are claiming that media company websites are using their works without permission. This time, the targets are Cumulus, Bonneville and Interactive One. In just the past month, he has also gone after NRG Media and Zimmer Radio, among a slew of media companies.
All three of the latest complaints were filed this week in the Southern District of New York. First, the Cumulus suit accuses the company’s CHR “Alice 107.7” KLAL Little Rock of posting images on its website of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant holding a dove that flew into his hands during a 1973 concert, “owned and registered” by photog James Fortune. (The image no longer appears on the website.)
In court papers obtained by Inside Radio, Ashland, VA -based Fortune is described as a renowned music photographer who has photographed such rock icons as Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Jim Morrison and Elton John, whose work has “appeared in galleries around the world and won numerous awards.”
The suit claims, “Cumulus did not license the Photographs from Plaintiff for its article, nor did Cumulus have Plaintiff’s permission or consent to publish the Photographs on its Website.” Liebowitz and Fortune filed a copycat “fill in the blanks” copyright infringement lawsuit against Strattan Broadcasting in July 2019 and Fox News Radio in February 2018—for precisely the same image. They also pow-wowed to sue Entercom in May 2018.
The Bonneville complaint accuses its news website MyNorthwest.com in Tacoma, WA, of the use of a copyrighted photo by plaintiff Ashlie Brickman of Willem Van Spronsen, with the headline “Man sent manifesto before he was killed at detention center: ‘i am antifa’.” (Again, the image no longer appears on the site.)
Likewise, Interactive One is being sued for the use of a shot by photographer Kevin Downs on its Hip Hop Wired site of Nakwon Foxworth Jr., “owned and registered by Downs, a New York-based professional photographer.” The headline on the website: “Savagery: Cop Shooter Smiles At Judge After Being Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison.”
In each of the three lawsuits, Liebowitz writes, “The foregoing acts of infringement have been willful, intentional and purposeful, in disregard of and indifference to Plaintiff’s rights.” Demands include “actual damages and Defendant’ profits, gains or advantages of any kind attributable to (the) photograph”; as well as punitive damages for copyright infringement; attorney’s fees and costs; pre-judgment interest; and a jury trial.