The Plaintiff in this copyright lawsuit is a professional photographer from Sammamish, Washington. He sells “limited edition luxury nature photography.” Pretty cool stuff, go check it out.
The Defendants are a real estate agency located in Portland, Oregon, who allegedly used one of Plaintiff’s photographs on their website without permission.
That’s all pretty standard stuff for a copyright lawsuit. We see those types of photography lawsuits regularly, since copyright infringement is strict liability, meaning liability doesn’t depend on actual negligence or intent to harm. Even the proposed settlement amount was reasonable by all accounts, just $1000 (statutory damages are $750 minimum). The more interesting part of this lawsuit may be the reason why the parties couldn’t amicably settle the dispute outside of court.
Settlement discussions apparently broke down over a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement. Per the Complaint (below), “Defendants’ counsel did not wish to be personally bound by confidentiality ostensibly on account of an article that Defendants’ counsel intended to submit to California Lawyer magazine.” Defendants’ counsel also “apparently believed that amicable settlement was not prudent, as these types of cases ‘need more exposure.'”
Of course, we’re more than happy to give Oregon trademark and copyright cases tons of exposure here at the Oregon Intellectual Property Blog. Stay tuned for updates (and perhaps eventually a California Lawyer article with more detail).
Reed v. Ezelle Investment Properties Inc. et al.
Court Case Number: 3:17-cv-01364-BR
File Date: Thursday, August 31, 2017
Plaintiff: Aaron C. Reed
Plaintiff Counsel:Mathew K. Higbee, Esq. of HIGBEE & ASSOCIATES
Defendant: Ezelle Investment Properties Inc. d/b/a Ezelleinvestproperties.com, Glenn D. Ezelle Jr., Does 1-10
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Anna J. Brown