Federal Jury Awards $900K to Plant Retailer in Photo Theft Lawsuit

An Oregon-based plant retailer was just awarded almost one million dollars in actual damages by a federal jury in one of the biggest photography copyright wins of the year so far. Despite the strange circumstances of this case, it’s being called, “a huge win for artists, photographer, and creators.”

According to PDN, the case revolves around the unauthorized use of 24 copyrighted images captured by Under a Foot Plant Co. president Frances White for use in marketing a product they came up with called Stepables—basically, plants that can be walked on.

White and co. were able to show, in court, that competing company Maryland-based Exterior Design used 24 of White’s images in marketing materials ranging from Web pages, to posters, to brochures for their own Treadwell Plants, infringing on White’s copyright a total of 133 times from 2011 until the suit was filed in 2014.

Despite several cease and desist requests sent between 2011 and 2014, Exterior Design continued using the photographs, leaving White no choice but to sue for unauthorized use of the photos, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment. Exterior Design denied all claims, but a federal Jury in Maryland ultimately sided with Under a Foot, awarding the company either $900,000 in actual damages or $300,000 in statutory damages. It’s fair to say the plaintiff will probably pick the former.

“These photographs were the result of countless hours of time, attention, planning and preparation,” White said in a statement. “This was a huge win for artists, photographers, and creators.”

(via PDN Pulse)