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US-based celebrity photo agency sues Twitter for copyright infringement

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US-based celebrity photo agency sues Twitter for copyright infringement

A photo agency has filed a lawsuit against Twitter accusing the company of allowing users to upload its copyright-protected photos.

Backgrid, a celebrity photo agency, alleges that Twitter infringed “at least 1,526” of its celebrity images, with infringement “continuous and ongoing.”

The agency also claims that it sent more than 6,700 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices to Twitter but it failed to take down the images.

The lawsuit read: “Not a single work was taken down and not a single repeat infringer was suspended.”

The agency claims that it tried to resolve the issue directly with Twitter, but the company “did not respond”, so it went to court.

In the complaint, it highlighted a few Twitter accounts that used its images.

For example, Backgrid alleged that @BSO account, which belongs to Robert Littal, former co-host of the TMZ Sports show and founder & editor of news site, was sent 73 DMCA notices in connection with 49 copyrighted images posted between September 2021 and November 2022.

In the second example, it highlighted the account @foochia, owned by Arab women running the fashion and beauty website, for which the company sent “at least 101 DMCA take-down notifications encompassing at least 42 timely registered photographs.”

Backgrid is asking for US$ 228.9 million in statutory damages, which is calculated based on $150,000 per image for 1,526 infringed images.

Rebecca Tushnet, an intellectual property expert and professor at Harvard Law School, thinks Backgrid’s lawsuit only tells one side of the story.

She said: “One possibility is that the notices were defective in some way. One possibility is that there’s been a maintenance failure and the removals just didn’t get done. If those very posts are still up, that’s a bad fact.”

PitchMark recently wrote a story about a US-based photographer Stephanie Campbell filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against Gannett Media and more than 220 Gannett news outlets for allegedly using a photo she shot without permission.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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