Copyright Claims Board Awards Photographer $3K After Defendant No Shows


The newly-formed Copyright Claims Board (CCB) has ruled the owner of a website must pay a photographer $3,000 after it infringed upon his copyright.

But what makes the case unusual is that the respondent, Lavaca LLC, refused to cooperate with the board, repeatedly no-showing, which may have led to a heftier fine.

The Photographer’s Case

According to Plagiarism Today, photographer Dana Hursey alleged that the website used his photo of a family picnic without obtaining a license.

An image monitoring platform working on behalf of Hursey flagged the infringement who promptly sent a letter to Lavaca which responded by demanding Hursey prove his ownership of the photo and threatened to report his attorney to the Bar Association and the local district attorney.

That correspondence would be the last communication the two parties ever had. In July 2022, Hursey filed the case with the CCB which accepted the case but had no joy bringing Lavaca to the table. The company ignored repeated invited from the CCB which issued default notices earlier this year.

In the interim, Hursey presented a host of evidence for his claim which included showing that the infringing photo was still on the website and proving that he had made significant money licensing the photo in question.

Last month, in the absence of any evidence contrary to the photographer’s claims, the CCB awarded Hursey $3,000 in damages which is now enforceable in a court of law.

What the CCB Means for Photographers

It is an issue that scores of photographers have faced before, someone has ripped off their work and then the accused stonewalls the photographer when confronted.

The CCB presents a new avenue and this case shows that respondents can’t simply ignore photographers. As Jonathan Bailey from Plagiarism Today notes, Lavaca did “just about everything wrong.”

“By not opting out and not participating in the process, they made it so that only Hursey’s side was heard and the fact the infringing was ongoing simply meant there was no reason to curtail the damages at all,” writes Bailey.

The case follows on from the CCB’s first final decision when it awarded a photographer $1,000 for a copyright infringement after David Oppenheimer sued a lawyer for using one of his photographers on his website without permission.

The CCB was set up in 2022 to help small copyright infringement claims of lower value giving photographers an alternative to hiring pricey copyright attorneys who generally balk at smaller monetary payouts of this kind.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.