A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Copyright Claims Over Alleged Misuse of Plaintiff's Photographs Dismissed

In an August 6, 2013 ruling, Judge Loretta A. Preska dismissed the copyright infringement claims that Muench Photography, Inc. had asserted against John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  Muench had a contract with Corbis Corporation for the licensing of Muench's photographs to third parties.  Corbis licensed certain of plaintiff's photographs to Wiley that "contained express limitations on Defendant's use of" them.  Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, which asserted copyright infringement and breach of contract claims, alleged that Wiley's use of their photographs exceeded the scope of the license in a number of ways, and that Wiley entered into the license knowing that its use would exceed the scope.  Wiley moved to dismiss the copyright claims arguing that Muench was collaterally estopped by a ruling in another litigation because the "claims rely upon copyright registrations that this Court has already held to be insufficient to bring the instant suit."  Muench argued that collateral estoppel was inappropriate because the earlier ruling was not yet final.  Judge Preska avoided the estoppel issue, and simply adhered to her reasoning in the earlier decision that the copyrights were "invalid as to Muench's individual works . . . because Muench was not listed as an author," as required by the Copyright Act.  The Court allowed limited breach of contract claims to proceed.
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