Agence France Presse v. Morel
MEMORANDUM & ORDER granting 313 Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, and/or remittitur is GRANTED insofar as the Court grants judgment as a matter of law to Getty on Morel's claim under§ 1202(b) of the DMCA. Accordingly, the jury's award is altered such that AFP and Getty continue to be jointly liable for $1,210,000 and AFP is individually liable for the remaining $10, 000. The remainder of Defendants' motion is DENIED. The parties have stipulated that the deadline for taxing costs and submitting any motions for attorneys' fees is fourteen days from the date of this order. Dkt. No. 311. The opposition and reply deadlines for any such motions will be governed by the Federal and Local Rules, unless the parties, within fourteen days, submit for the Court's approval a stipulation setting alternative deadlines.This resolves Docket No. 313. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Alison J. Nathan on 8/13/2014) (ama)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
. ELECTRONICALLY FIL ED
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE,
.DA'f'.EflLED:AUG 1 3 201_4
GETTY IMAGES (US), INC., et al.,
ALISON J. NATHAN, District Judge:
On November 22, 2013, following trial, a jury found that Agence France Presse ("AFP")
and Getty Images (US), Inc. ("Getty," and together with AFP, "Defendants" 1) had willfully
infringed Daniel Morel's copyright in eight photographs taken in the aftennath of the January
2010 Haiti earthquake. The jury awarded Morel $303,889.77 in actual damages and infringers'
profits and $1.2 million in statutory damages. The jury also found that Defendants had
committed sixteen violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), 17 U.S.C.
§§ 1201-1205, and awarded Morel an additional $20,000 for those violations. Before the Court
AFP originally brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that it had not infringed Morel's photographs.
Morel then filed counterclaims against AFP and impleaded Getty as a third-party defendant. (Other third-party
defendants that Morel initially named are no longer part of this lawsuit.) Because Morel is alleging violations by
AFP and Getty, the Court refers to AFP and Getty as "Defendants" for simplicity's sake. AFP and Getty were also
called "Defendants" at trial to avoid confusing the jury. See Dkt. No. 270 at 1 n.2.
is Defendants' motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 50 and 59(a) for judgment as a
matter oflaw, a new trial, and/or remittitur. Dkt. No. 313. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
The Court assumes familiarity with the facts of this case from its prior opinions on
summary judgment and Judge Pauley's decision at the motion to dismiss stage, when the case
was still assigned to him. Agence Fr. Presse v. Morel, 769 F. Supp. 2d 295 (S.D.N.Y. 2011)
("Morel I"); Agence Fr. Presse v. Morel, 934 F. Supp. 2d 547 ("Morel II"), reconsideration
granted in part, 934 F. Supp. 2d 584 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) ("Morel III"); Dkt. Nos. 49, 192, 217.
Briefly, AFP commenced this action in March 2010 by filing a declaratory judgment complaint
naming Morel as the defendant. Morel, a professional photographer who lives in Haiti, had
taken a number of photographs on January 12, 2010, in the aftermath of the devastating Haiti
earthquake, and uploaded them to Twitter via a TwitPic account. A Twitter user named Lisandra
Suero copied the photographs into his own Twitter feed without Morel's consent, and though the
parties dispute precisely what happened next, eight of the photographs-initially credited to
Suero-ended up being distributed by AFP and its "image partner" Getty to thousands of news
outlets and other customers around the world.
After AFP sought a declaration that it had not infringed Morel's copyright in the eight
photographs, 2 Morel filed counterclaims against AFP for copyright infringement and violations
of the DMCA and the Lanham Act, and also brought third-party claims against Getty and a
number of Defendants' "downstream" customers (no longer parties) who had downloaded the
images. On January 14, 2011, Judge Pauley upheld the bulk of Morel's claims against a motion
AFP also alleged commercial defamation, but that claim has been voluntarily dismissed. Dkt. No. 34.
to dismiss, but granted the motion with respect to his Lanham Act claims. Morel I, 769 F. Supp.
2d at 302-04, 305-06, 308.
On April 27, 2012, following discovery, the remaining parties-at that point, only AFP,
Getty, and the Washington Post ("the Post") were still litigating Morel's claims-filed crossmotions for summary judgment. This Court rejected as a matter oflaw Defendants' primary
defense against Morel's copyright claims, namely, that Defendants were licensed to use Morel's
photographs by virtue of Twitter' s terms of service. That holding meant that AFP and the Post,
neither of which had asserted any other defenses, were liable for copyright infringement. The
Court also held that genuine issues of material fact precluded judgment on ( 1) Getty's remaining
defenses against copyright infringement; (2) whether Defendants' copyright infringement was
"willful" so as to trigger enhanced statutory damages under the Copyright Act, see 17 U.S.C.
§ 504(c)(2); (3) Defendants' secondary liability for the infringements committed by their
downstream customers; and (4) Defendants' liability under the DMCA. Morel II, 934 F. Supp.
2d at 564, 568-69, 571-72, 572-75, 578. On reconsideration, the Court clarified that
Defendants' liability for copyright infringement was joint and several, and that Morel could
therefore prove at most eight infringements and receive at most eight statutory damages
awards-i.e., one per photograph. Morel III, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 588-94.
Before trial, Getty dropped its two remaining copyright infringement defenses, thereby
conceding liability. The Court also determined that Morel's secondary liability claims were
duplicative, since liability for direct infringement had already been established against both
Defendants. Tr. at 870: 13-16. Accordingly, the only issues on which the jury was instructed
were whether Defendants' infringements were willful, whether Defendants were liable under the
DMCA, and damages under both the Copyright Act and the DMCA.
Trial commenced on November 13, 2013. There were nine witnesses: Morel; Vincent
Amalvy, AFP's Director of Photography for North and South America; Eva Hambach, AFP's
Deputy to the Director of Photography for North America and South America; Andreas Gebhard,
Getty's Editorial Distribution Director; Francisco ("Pancho") Bernasconi, Getty's Vice President
for U.S. News and Sports; Katherine Calhoun, Getty's Senior Sales Director for North American
Media; Heather Cameron, a Senior Paralegal in Getty's Legal Department; Gilles Tarot, AFP's
Director of Sales and Marketing for North America; and Benjamin Fathers, AFP's photo desk
chief for Europe and Africa. See JPTR Exs. C, D (describing witnesses' roles).
The jury heard testimony from November 14 to November 20, 2013, and delivered its
verdict on November 22. It found that both AFP and Getty had willfully infringed Morel's
copyright in the eight photographs; awarded Morel $275,000 in actual damages, $28,889.77 total
in infringing profits, and $1.2 million in statutory damages; found that AFP and Getty had jointly
committed sixteen DMCA violations; and awarded Morel an additional $20,000 for those
violations. Court Exs. 9, 12. On December 10, 2013, after Morel elected to receive statutory
damages under the Copyright Act, the Court entered judgment in the amount of $1,220,000.
Dkt. No. 306. The parties submitted a stipulation staying execution of that judgment pending the
final disposition of any post-trial motions. Dkt. No. 311.
Defendants move for judgment as a matter of law on the jury's finding that both AFP and
Getty willfully infringed Morel's copyright in the eight photographs, as well as on Morel's
DMCA claims. Def. Br. at 4, 12. Defendants also move in the alternative for a new trial on the
jury's willfulness finding. Id. at 12. Finally, Defendants move for a new trial or remittitur on the
jury's damages award for copyright infringement. Id. at 20.
Judgment as a matter oflaw pursuant to Rule 50 is appropriate on a given issue if"a
reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for" the non-moving
party on that issue. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a)(l). A court should grant a Rule 50 motion only if
"there exists such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that the jury's findings
could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture, or the evidence in favor of the
movant is so overwhelming that reasonable and fair minded [persons] could not arrive at a
verdict against [it]." Tepperwien v. Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., 663 F.3d 556, 567 (2d
Cir. 2011) (alterations in original) (quoting Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 531 F.3d 127, 133
(2d Cir. 2008)) (internal quotation mark omitted).
A district court may order a new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a) on the basis that the jury's
verdict was against the weight of the evidence "if and only if' it determines that the verdict is
"seriously erroneous" or "a miscarriage of justice." Raedle v. Credit Agricole Indosuez, 670
F.3d 411, 417 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Farrior v. Waterford Bd. ofEduc., 277 F.3d 633, 634 (2d
Cir. 2002)). A court's discretion to order a new trial includes "overturning verdicts for
excessiveness and ordering a new trial without qualification, or conditioned on the verdict
winner's refusal to agree to a reduction (remittitur)." Kirsch v. Fleet St., Ltd., 148 F.3d 149, 165
(2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Gasperini v. Ctr.for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 433 (1996))
(internal quotation mark omitted). "Remittitur is the process by which a court compels a plaintiff
to choose between reduction of an excessive verdict and a new trial." Lin v. McDonnell Douglas
Corp., 742 F.2d 45, 49 (2d Cir. 1984)
Generally, remittitur is appropriate under two circumstances: (1) when the court discerns
"an error that caused the jury to include in the verdict a quantifiable amount that should be
stricken" or (2) when the award is "intrinsically excessive" in the sense that no reasonable jury
could have awarded the amount, whether or not the excessiveness can be attributed to "a
particular, quantifiable error." Kirsch, 148 F.3d at 165 (quoting Trademark Research Corp. v.
Maxwell Online, Inc., 995 F.2d 326, 337 (2d Cir. 1993)). Where there is no discernible error, the
jury's verdict should be set aside as intrinsically excessive only if "the award is so high as to
shock the judicial conscience and constitute a denial of justice." Id. (quoting 0 'Neill v.
Krzeminski, 839 F.2d 9, 13 (2d Cir. 1988)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
B. Willful Copyright Infringement
The Copyright Act authorizes a jury to award enhanced statutory damages if it finds that
the defendant's infringement was willful. 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2). Infringement is willful if
(1) "the defendant was actually aware of the infringing activity" or (2) "the defendant's actions
were the result of 'reckless disregard' for, or 'willful blindness' to, the copyright holder's
rights." Island Software & Computer Serv., Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 413 F.3d 257, 263 (2d Cir.
2005); see also NA.S. Imp., Corp. v. Chenson Enterprises, Inc., 968 F.2d 250, 252 (2d Cir.
1992) (noting that the defendant's "knowledge may be 'actual or constructive.' In other words,
it need not be proven directly but may be inferred from the defendant's conduct" (citation
omitted) (quoting Fitzgerald Puhl 'g Co. v. Baylor Puhl 'g Co., 807 F .2d 1110, 1115 (2d Cir.
1986))). In evaluating willfulness, courts look to several factors, including "whether the
infringer was on notice that the copyrighted work was protected; whether the infringer had
received warnings of the infringements; [and] whether the infringer had experience with previous
copyright ownership, prior lawsuits regarding similar practices, or work in an industry where
copyright is prevalent." Morel II, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 570 (alteration in original) (quoting
Marshall v. Marshall, No. 08-cv-1420 (LB), 2012 WL 1079550, at *25 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 30
2012)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff bears the burden of proving willfulness.
17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2); Bryant v. Media Right Prods., Inc., 603 F.3d 135, 143 (2d Cir. 2010).
Defendants argue that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient for the jury to find
that either AFP or Getty committed willful copyright infringement, and that the Court should
hold as a matter oflaw that their infringement was not willful or, alternatively, grant a new trial
on that issue. Def. Br. at 4-12. For the reasons that follow, however, the Court will not disturb
the jury's finding that both Defendants' infringement was willful.
1. AFP's Willfulness
The evidence was plainly sufficient for the jury to conclude that AFP's infringement was
willful under either an actual knowledge or reckless disregard theory. Amalvy testified that
when he sent the pictures from Suero's Twitter feed to AFP's photo desk, he believed that Suero
was the photographer and that Suero was authorizing Twitter users to distribute the photographs
free of charge to bring public attention to the earthquake. Tr. at 308:17-309:9. But the jury was
not required to believe Amalvy's testimony about his mindset, and there was sufficient other
evidence indicating that Amalvy took the pictures with reckless disregard for whether he was
authorized to do so. Specifically, Amalvy testified that ifhe had seen Suero's tweets indicating
that Suero was in the Dominican Republic, he would have questioned whether Suero had the
right to authorize distribution of the photographs. Tr. at 272:1-6, 18. Although Amalvy said
that he did not see these tweets, the jury could conclude from the fact that he sent multiple
Twitter messages to Suero on the same night that he did, in fact, see them. Tr. at 281 :21-23
(Amalvy). Moreover, even assuming that Amalvy believed the pictures were Suero's, an email
reveals that he felt it was important for AFP to have photographs of the earthquake. Ex. 130A
("I waited a long time before acting, but in my opinion, AFP couldn't be completely invisible
about a disaster of this magnitude. . . . and
if we had to go there . .. use the best possible")
(ellipses in original; emphasis added). Amalvy testified to largely the same effect. Tr. at 301 :3302: 10. The jury could have concluded from this evidence that Amalvy harbored actual doubts
about AFP's right to use the photographs but went ahead anyway to "salvage the situation" for
AFP. Tr. at 302: 10.
Perhaps more to the point, AFP concededly became aware, on January 13, that the
pictures it had taken from Suero' s Twitter feed had actually been taken by Morel. Tr. at 325: 18326:5 (Amalvy). It also knew, at that point in time, that it did not have permission to use the
photographs, given that Morel had never granted such permission. Nonetheless, AFP did not
cease distributing the photographs; to the contrary, it issued a caption correction identifying
Morel as the photographer and continued to make them available on its feed. Ex. 28; Tr. at
327:8-13 (Amalvy). The fact that AFP apparently took this course of action on the belief that it
could work out a deal with Morel at a later date, see Def. Br. at 7, does not suggest that it did not
know its conduct was infringing. See Fitzgerald Pub! 'g Co., 807 F .2d at 1115 ("[A] court need
not find that an infringer acted maliciously to find willful infringement."). Indeed, the fact that
AFP apparently sought a retroactive license from Morel is arguably evidence that it knew, or at
least was indifferent to whether, its conduct was infringing; hence the need to seek a release from
liability after the fact.
Finally, it also bears noting that AFP works in an industry where copyright was prevalent
and has had extensive experience with copyright ownership. Evidence was presented that AFP
has guidelines for handling copyright ownership and that the AFP employees implicated in
infringing Morel's copyright were aware of those guidelines. Ex. 144B; Tr. at 275:5-21
(Amalvy). In sum, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that AFP's
infringement was willful. The Court therefore denies Defendants' Rule 50 motion with respect
to AFP's willfulness. In light of the evidence described above, the Court also concludes that the
jury's verdict was not seriously erroneous or a miscarriage of justice, and therefore denies
Defendant's motion for a new trial on AFP's willfulness.
2. Getty's Willfulness
The evidence showed that Suero-credited versions of Morel's photographs remained
available to Getty customers as late as February 2, 2010, roughly two and a half weeks after AFP
sent a "kill notice" asking Getty to remove all "Daniel Morel pictures from Haiti" from Getty's
systems. Ex. 54. And between receiving the kill notice on January 14 and pulling the remaining
images from its website on February 2, Getty licensed these Suero-credited images to its
customers numerous times. Getty's willfulness therefore turns on whether it knew that the
Suero-credited images were still available for sale on its site even after receiving the kill notice
and removing Morel-credited images. Although the evidence of Getty's willfulness is somewhat
thin in comparison to the evidence regarding AFP's willfulness, the Court concludes that it was
sufficient to support the jury's verdict.
On January 13, AFP sent a "caption correction" to Getty in order to credit Morel's
photographs to Morel instead of Suero. Ex. 28, 29. There was evidence that Gebhard, who was
responsible for removing the infringing photographs from Getty's website after it received the
kill notice from AFP on January 14, was aware that AFP had sent the caption correction on the
same photographs a day earlier. Specifically, in a response to a January 14 email from Hambach
notifying various Getty employees of the kill notice, Gebhard recognized that AFP had
"correct[ed] the photogs [sic] name" the day before. Ex. 55; Tr. at 537:5-539:22 (Gebhard).
Gebhard claimed that he had not actually seen the substance of AFP's caption correction;
insteacl, he testifiecl that when he was searchine for Mornl-creclitecl photographs in response to
the kill notice, he saw that some were credited to "David Morel" and inferred (apparently
without further investigation) that the caption correction was meant to correct "David" to
"Daniel." Tr. at 539:23-540:7. But the jury did not have to believe this explanation; it could
have concluded, based on Gebhard's email, that he actually had seen the substance of the caption
correction and therefore knew that Suero-credited versions of Morel's photographs had been
made available to Getty's customers. In that case, Gebhard' s failure to search for or remove
those Suero-credited images from Getty's website would be sufficient evidence of willfulness.
See Morel II, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 571.
Defendants point out that AFP's kill notice neither specified the image numbers of the
infringing photographs nor mentioned Suero, and that AFP had sent multiple copies of Morel's
photographs to Getty, making it difficult for Gebhard to know whether he had actually removed
all of the images (whether credited to Suero or Morel) from Getty's website. Def. Br. at 9; Def.
Reply at 5-6 & n.5. But the kill notice's failure to mention Suero is irrelevant if Gebhard knew
that AFP had sent Suero-credited pictures, and the vagueness of the kill notice cuts both waysit arguably suggests that Gebhard should have been more meticulous in finding and removing
Morel's photographs. That is particularly true in light of the fact that Gebhard had seen the
photographs on Morel's Twitter feed the night of the earthquake. See Ex. 2. The jury therefore
could have concluded that Gebhard would have been able to identify the pictures just by looking.
Accordingly, the alleged shortcomings of the kill notice do not preclude willfulness as a matter
of law; they at most raised an additional factual issue for the jury.
Furthermore, as with AFP, there was evidence that Getty in general, and Gebhard in
particular, were familiar with copyright and worked in an industry where copyright was
prevalent. E.g., Tr. at 543:7-547:1 (Gebhard). That evidence further buttresses the jury's
Defendants cite two cases for the proposition that Getty's actions amount to mere
negligence, not willfulness, but these cases are distinguishable. In Video Views, Inc. v. Studio
21, Ltd., 925 F.2d 1010 (7th Cir. 1991), overruled on other grounds by Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc.,
510 U.S. 517 (1994), the court agreed with the district court that the defendant's infringement
was not willful as a matter oflaw because although the defendant had received notice that the
plaintiff owned the copyright in certain videos produced by twelve companies, the two videos it
allegedly infringed were not produced by any of those companies. Id. at 1020-21. The specific
reference to other copyrighted works could not have put the defendant on notice with respect to
the two infringed works. In this case, by contrast, AFP's kill notice did not convey any similar
negative implication. It may have been vague, but it identified the correct copyright owner, and
given the evidence suggesting that Gebhard actually knew that Getty was distributing Suerocredited photographs, the notice's failure to mention Suero is irrelevant. King Records, Inc. v.
Bennett, 438 F. Supp. 2d 812 (M.D. Tenn. 2006), was decided after a bench trial and therefore
applies the wrong standard. This Court's task is not to arrive at the best view of the evidence,
but rather to determine whether the jury's findings were supportable.
Because the Court concludes that there was sufficient evidence to find Getty liable for
willful copyright infringement, Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law on that issue
is denied. The Court also denies Defendants' motion for a new trial on Getty's willfulness. In
light of the evidence discussed above, the jury's verdict rested significantly on its assessment of
the Getty witnesses' credibility. The Second Circuit has cautioned that while district courts may
weigh evidence in considering Rule 59 motions, they should exercise this ability "with caution
and great restraint, as a judge 'should rarely disturb a jury's evaluation of a witness's credibility,'
and may not 'freely substitute his or her assessment of the credibility of witnesses for that of the
jury simply because the judge disagrees with the jury.'" Raedle, 670 F.3d at 418 (citations
omitted) (quoting DLC Mgmt. Corp. v. Town ofHyde Park, 163 F.3d 124, 134 (2d Cir. 1998);
and United States v. Landau, 155 F.3d 93, 104 (2d Cir. 1998)). The Court declines to hold that
the jury's assessment of the evidence in this case, turning as it did on the witnesses' credibility,
was seriously erroneous or a miscarriage of justice.
C. DMCA Liability
Defendants argue that the evidence was insufficient to find them liable for violating the
DMCA. The jury was instructed on two theories ofDMCA liability, which the parties refer to as
"providing or distributing" false copyright management information ("CMI"), and "altering"
CMI. These two theories correspond to two subsections of the DMCA.
First, the DMCA makes it unlawful to knowingly, and with the intent to "induce, enable,
facilitate, or conceal infringement," either "provide" or "distribute" (or "import for distribution")
false CMI. 17 U.S.C. § 1202(a). Thus, under this subsection,§ 1202(a), the defendant must
both know that the CMI is false, and provide or distribute the false CMI with the intent to induce,
enable, facilitate, or conceal infringement. See Ward v. Nat'l Geographic Soc'y, 208 F. Supp. 2d
429, 449 (S.D.N.Y. 2002).
Second, the DMCA also prohibits doing any of the following "without the authority of
the copyright owner or the law" and with knowledge or reasonable grounds to know that it will
"induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal" infringement:
(1) intentionally remove or alter any copyright management information,
(2) distribute or import for distribution copyright management information knowing that
the copyright management infonnation has been removed or altered without authority of
the copyright owner or the law, or
(3) distribute ... works, copies of works, or phonorecords, knowing that copyright
management information has been removed or altered without authority of the copyright
owner or the law.
17 U.S.C. § 1202(b). As relevant here, the definition of CMI includes "[t]he name of, and other
identifying information about, the author of a work," and "[t]he name of, and other identifying
information about, the copyright owner of the work, including the information set forth in a
notice of copyright." Id.§ 1202(c)(2), (3).
Defendants challenge the jury's finding that AFP and Getty jointly committed eight
violations of each subsection, for sixteen total DMCA violations. Def. Br. at 12-15. As
explained below, the Court agrees with Defendants only in part. Specifically, there was
insufficient evidence to find Getty liable for violating § 1202(b). Otherwise, the evidence was
sufficient to support the jury's verdict.
1. AFP's DMCA Liability
Much of the same evidence on which the jury could have found that AFP's infringement
was willful also permitted the jury to find AFP liable under both relevant subsections of the
DMCA. First, there was evidence that AFP "provided or distributed" false CMI with the intent
to induce, enable, or facilitate, or conceal infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 1202(a). As noted, the jury
could have concluded based on Amalvy's January 12 Twitter activity that he knew the eight
images were not Suero's from the beginning yet falsely credited them to Suero. Additionally,
even if AFP's addition of the identifier "AFP" to Morel's images did not imply that AFP itself
was the copyright owner, there was sufficient evidence that it conveyed false "identifying
information about" the "author of a work," 17 U.S.C. § 1202(c)(l), by implying that Morel was
associated with AFP, which he was not. See Ex. 328 (email from Corbis suggesting that the
"Getty Images" identifier on Morel's photographs suggested that Morel was associated with
Getty); Tr. at 175:6-17 (Morel); see also Morel II, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 577 (finding a genuine
factual issue with respect to whether "AFP" and "Getty Images" identifiers added by Defendants
"convey[ ed] information about copyright ownership" and therefore qualified as CMI). 3 And the
jury could have concluded that AFP acted with the required intent by providing and distributing
the false CMI in order to license Morel's photographs to its customers. See Morel II, 934 F.
Supp. 2d at 578 (citing McClatchey v. Associated Press, No. 05-cv-145, 2007 WL 776103, at *6
(W.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2007)).
Second, there was also evidence that AFP "alter[ed]" the CMI on Morel's photographs
without Morel's authority and distributed copies of Morel's images knowing that the CMI had
been altered without his authority. 17 U.S.C. § 1202(b)(l), (2). The evidence showed that after
AFP became aware that Suero was not the author of the eight images, AFP issued a caption
correction identifying Morel as the photographer and continued to make the images available to
its customers. When it issued that caption correction, AFP concededly had not received
permission from Morel to either distribute his photographs or make the correction. From this
evidence, the jury could have concluded that in continuing to distribute the photographs with a
Defendants previously argued that the identifiers should be covered by language in the DMCA providing that the
definition of CMI does not include "any personally identifying information about a user of a work or of a copy,
phonorecord, performance, or display of a work." 17 U.S.C. § 1202(c). The Court reserved on that argument during
trial, Tr. at 899:7-17, but Defendants do not appear to have renewed it in their post-trial briefing. See Kirsch, 148
F.3d at 164 ("As to any issue on which no proper Rule 50(b) motion was made, JMOL may not properly be granted
by the district court ... unless that action is required in order to prevent manifest injustice."). In any event, although
the Court has been unable to find any definition of§ 1202(c)'s term "user," the definition is irrelevant in light of the
Court's conclusion that the jury could have found that the identifiers did convey "identifying information about" the
"author of the work." See Tr. at 845:14-15 (observing that Defendants' "user" argument was "not a statutory
argument ... but an evidentiary argument")
caption identifying Morel as the photographer, AFP had both altered the "name of ... the author
of' the photographs, 17 U.S.C. § 1202(c)(2), without the authority of the copyright owner, and
had distributed Morel's images while knowing that their CMI had been altered without his
authority. And the jury could have concluded that AFP knew or had reasonable grounds to know
that its alteration of CMI would "induce, enable, or facilitate infringement" by enabling the
continued licensing of Morel's images-which were now credited to Morel but still not AFP's to
license-to AFP's customers. Defendants' contention that AFP "was trying to correct its
mistake," Def. Reply at 11 (emphasis omitted), does not imply that it did not know its activities
were infringing or that it was not facilitating infringement.
2. Getty's DMCA Liability
The evidence supporting the jury's willfulness finding with respect to Getty's copyright
infringement was also sufficient to support its finding that Getty violated§ 1202(a) of the
DMCA. Specifically, if Gebhard knew that the Suero-credited photographs were still available
on Getty's feed yet failed to remove them after receiving AFP's kill notice, the jury could have
concluded that he did so with the intent to enable the continued licensing of the Suero-credited
images to Getty's customers. On that view of the facts, Gebhard also would have known, at the
point when he failed to remove the images from Getty's feed, that CMI associated with the
Suero-credited images-the Suero credit and "AFP" and "Getty Images" identifiers-was false.
Accordingly, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that Getty's continued
distribution of the Suero-credited images following AFP's kill notice satisfied all of the elements
required by§ 1202(a). See Morel II, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 578 & n.19 (identifying a triable issue of
fact on Getty's DMCA liability in light of evidence involving Gebhard's knowledge of the
However, there was insufficient evidence to find Getty liable under§ 1202(b) of the
DMCA. Initially, the Court agrees with Defendants that the addition of the identifiers "AFP"
and "Getty Images" cannot constitute removal or alteration of CMI-both of those words
suggest that a defendant must take some action with respect to pre-existing CMI. See Webster's
Third New International Dictionary 63 (2002 ed.) (defining "alter" as "to cause to become
different in some particular characteristic"); id. at 1921 (defining "remove" as "to move by
lifting, pushing aside, or taking away or off'). On that interpretation, the evidence showed that
there were only two ways in which CMI on Morel's photographs was altered or removed without
his authority: when Suero first took the images from Morel's TwitPic feed and removed the
identifying information that accompanied the images on that feed, see Ex. 141A; Morel I, 769 F.
Supp. 2d at 305-06 (rejecting argument that attributions "Morel" and "by photomorel" on
Morel's TwitPic page were not CMI), and when, as described above, AFP changed the
photographer credit on the photographs from Suero to Morel. Although Getty itself did not
participate in these actions, it might still be liable if it distributed the images knowing that the
CMI had been altered or removed without Morel's consent. See 17 U.S.C. § 1202(b)(3); Morel
11, 934 F. Supp. 2d at 578 n.19.
But even if the jury believed that Gebhard knew there were images on Getty's feed that
were wrongly credited to Suero even after AFP's kill notice, there was no evidence that he or
anyone else at Getty knew that Suero had removed the TwitPic CMI from Morel's photographs.
And there was no evidence that Getty knew Morel had not given AFP authority to change the
photographer credit from Suero to Morel when AFP sent the caption correction; even ifthat lack
of authority could have been inferred from the subsequent kill notice, there was no evidence that
Getty continued to distribute Morel-credited images (as opposed to Suero-credited images) post-
kill notice. Because there was therefore insufficient evidence supporting the jury's finding that
Getty acted with the knowledge required by§ 1202(b), the Court concludes as a matter oflaw
that Getty was not liable under that subsection.
D. DMCA Damages
In addition to challenging the sufficiency of the evidence on DMCA liability, Defendants
raise two broad arguments with respect to the jury's DMCA damages award. Like the Copyright
Act, the DMCA allows a plaintiff to choose between recovering actual damages and statutory
damages. 17 U.S.C. § 1203(c)(l), (3). For violations of 17 U.S.C. § 1202 (the section of the
DMCA at issue here), the DMCA provides that a plaintiff"may elect to recover an award of
statutory damages for each violation ... in the sum of not less than $2,500 or more than
$25,000." Id. § 1203(c)(3)(B). The jury awarded Morel $20,000 for sixteen DMCA violations,
finding that he suffered actual damages of $20,000 and awarding him $20,000 in statutory
damages. Court Ex. 9 at 6, 7; Court Ex. 13. Although Morel has noted that this is actually less
than the $40,000 minimum that a jury may award as statutory damages, Dkt. No. 287, he has not
filed any post-trial motions addressing this point. The Court will therefore consider it abandoned
and tum to Defendants' arguments. See Dkt. No. 305 (indicating that any objections to the
amount of the jury's award "must be made by appropriate post-trial motion").
First, Defendants repeat their argument, originally advanced in a motion in limine, that
recovering multiple awards under the DMCA requires a plaintiff to prove that he has suffered a
distinct injury traceable to each violation. Def. Br. at 18-20. Defendants ground this argument
in the statutory language, which provides that "[a]ny person injured by a violation of section
1201 or 1202 may bring a civil action in an appropriate United States district court for such
violation." 17 U.S.C. § 1203(a) (emphasis added). The Court has already rejected this precise
argument, holding instead that the DMCA defines "violation" on a work-by-work basis and thus
allows a plaintiff to recover one award per work infringed without demonstrating a separate
injury as to each. Tr. at 893:1-896:16. This interpretation largely hannonizes the DMCA's
statutory damages scheme with the Copyright Act's and is consistent with (limited) case law
addressing the issue. See Propet USA, Inc. v. Shugart, No. 06-cv-186, 2007 WL 4376201, at *5
(W.D. Wash. Dec. 13, 2007); Stockart.com, LLC v. Engle, No. 10-cv-588, 2011 WL 10894610,
at *14 (D. Colo. Feb. 18, 2011), adopted, No. 10-cv-588 (D. Colo. Apr. 7, 2011), ECF No. 63.
The "injury" language that Defendants emphasize is better read as defining the class of plaintiffs
who may sue for a given DMCA violation. Tr. at 894:24-895:22. Defendants have not cited any
new authority or advanced any persuasive new arguments in their post-trial briefing, so the Court
will not reconsider its earlier holding. 4
Second, Defendants argue that Morel may not recover for any DMCA violations because
there was insufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that he suffered an injury separate and
apart from the injuries attributable to Defendants' copyright violations. Def. Br. at 16-18.
Defendants are correct that the law ordinarily forbids a plaintiff from recovering twice for the
same injury. See Indu Craft, Inc. v. Bank ofBaroda, 4 7 F .3d 490, 497 (2d Cir. 1997). But they
have never argued that DMCA damages will always be duplicative of an award for copyright
infringement, 5 and therefore recognize that in an appropriate case, separate DMCA and copyright
awards might be permissible. See Dkt. No. 252 at 16 n.12; Tr. at 898:20--24. This is true
because the Copyright Act and the DMCA protect different interests. Accordingly, the jury was
Given that this issue has already been decided, the Court disagrees with Defendants' contention that Morel has
"tacitly conceded" their single-award argument by addressing it only in a footnote. Def. Reply at 13 n.12.
For this reason, cases rejecting offhand the possibility of dual awards under the two statutes are inapposite in the
context of this case. E.g., Adobe Sys. Inc. v. Feather, 895 F. Supp. 2d 297, 303 n.5 (D. Conn. 2012).
instructed that "if you find that Mr. Morel is entitled to a verdict on both his copyright
infringement and his DMCA claims, you may not compensate him twice for any harm he might
have suffered." Court Ex. 3 at 29. The jury must be presumed to have determined that Morel
suffered additional harm beyond what he suffered as a result of Defendants' copyright
infringement. See, e.g., Richardson v. Marsh, 481 U.S. 200, 211 (1987) (noting the presumption
that juries follow their instructions).
Defendants argue that even if the jury was correctly instructed, there was insufficient
evidence supporting its finding that Morel suffered $20,000 in actual damages. However, the
Court concludes that it need not address the sufficiency of the evidence on this point because it is
irrelevant to whether the jury's statutory damages award (of the same amount) was appropriate.
With respect to statutory damages under the DMCA, the jury was instructed, consistent with the
parties' proposed jury instructions, see JPTR Ex. I at 69-70, that it was entitled to consider other
factors in addition to Morel's actual damages, namely, the difficulty of proving actual damages,
the circumstances of the violation, whether Defendants violated the DMCA intentionally or
innocently, and deterrence. Court Ex. 3 at 32. In the context of the Copyright Act, it is clear that
statutory damages can be awarded even in the absence of sufficient evidence supporting actual
damages, see Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. v. Krypton Broad. of Birmingham, Inc., 259
F .3d 1186, 1194 (9th Cir. 2001 ), and the Court likewise sees no reason why an inadequately
supported claim of actual damages should preclude Morel from recovering statutory damages
under the DMCA. In light of all the factors the jury was entitled to consider, its statutory award
of $20,000-or half the statutory minimum-was permissible.
E. Copyright Damages
The Copyright Act permits a plaintiff to choose between receiving an award of (1)
compensatory damages, in the form of actual damages plus the infringer's profits or (2) statutory
damages. See 17 U.S.C. § 504(a), (c).
The two categories of compensatory damages-actual damages and infringer's profitsare distinct: "any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement" cannot be
"taken into account in computing the actual damages." Id. § 504(b ).
The award of the infringer's profits examines the facts only from the infringer's point of
view. If the infringer has earned a profit, this award makes him disgorge the profit to
insure that he not benefit from his wrongdoing. The award of the owner's actual
damages looks at the facts from the point of view of the copyright owner; it undertakes to
compensate the owner for any harm he suffered by reason of the infringer's illegal act.
Davis v. The Gap, Inc., 246 F.3d 152, 159 (2d Cir. 2001). In assessing actual damages, a
factfinder may look to the profits that the plaintiff lost because of the infringement, any
diminution in the market value of the plaintiff's copyright, or what the plaintiff would have
received as a reasonable licensing fee for the defendant's infringing use. See id. at 164-66;
Fitzgerald Pub! 'g Co., 807 F .2d at 1118-19. Actual damages "should be broadly construed to
favor victims of infringement," Davis, 246 F.3d at 164, but a jury's actual damages award also
cannot be "based upon undue speculation," Abeshouse v. Ultragraphics, Inc., 754 F.2d 467, 470
(2d Cir. 1985).
As an alternative to an award of actual damages plus infringer's profits, a plaintiff may
elect to recover statutory damages at any time before a final judgment is rendered. 17 U.S.C.
§ 504(c). The Copyright Act prescribes three ranges for statutory damages, depending on
whether the infringement was innocent, willful, or neither. The statutory damages range is $200
to $30,000 per work for innocent infringement, $750 to $150,000 per work for willful
infringement, and $750 to $30,000 per work for regular infringement. See id. The Second
Circuit has prescribed six factors to be considered in setting statutory damages within these
ranges: "(1) the infringer's state of mind; (2) the expenses saved, and profits earned, by the
infringer; (3) the revenue lost by the copyright holder; (4) the deterrent effect on the infringer
and third parties; (5) the infringer's cooperation in providing evidence concerning the value of
the infringing material; and (6) the conduct and attitude of the parties." Bryant, 603 F.3d at 144.
On Morel's copyright claims, the jury awarded him $275,000 in actual damages, plus
$28,889.77 total in infringing profits ($14,447.76 for AFP and $14,442.01 for Getty) or,
alternatively, $1.2 million in statutory damages-the maximum possible statutory award for the
willful infringement of eight works. Following trial, Morel elected to receive statutory damages.
Dkt. No. 287. Defendants make two arguments for a new trial or remittitur. First, they argue
that the jury's actual damages award of $275,000 was overly speculative and therefore amounts
to a discernible error that would justify remittitur. Def. Br. at 20. Second, they argue that the
$1.2 million statutory damages award was intrinsically excessive in light of the evidence. Id. at
25. For the following reasons, the Court rejects both arguments.
1. Actual Damages
As a preliminary matter, it is important to note that because Morel has (understandably)
elected to receive statutory damages, Defendants are challenging the jury's actual damages
calculation primarily insofar as it undergirds the jury's $1.2 million statutory damages award. If
the Court were to conclude that the jury's statutory damages award was excessive, Defendants
appear to concede that as much as $400,000 would be an appropriate award following
remittitur-at least in light of the Court's holding that the evidence was sufficient to find that
Defendants' infringement was willful. See Def. Br. at 31-32 (urging the Court to rely on cases
rewarding between $20,000 and $50,000 in statutory damages per work for willful
infringement). One would, of course, expect Morel to elect statutory damages of $400,000 over
actual damages of $275,000, so only statutory damages would be relevant even ifthe Court were
to side with Defendants.
But as Defendants point out, actual damages may be relevant even if a plaintiff elects to
recover statutory damages. See Bryant, 603 F.3d at 144 (listing "the revenue lost by the
copyright holder" among the factors to be considered in setting statutory damages). Defendants
argue that the jury's inappropriate actual damages calculation "infected" its $1.2 million
statutory damages award, thereby furnishing one of several grounds on which the Court should
remit that award. Def. Br. at 20. That is because "actual damages is one of the Bryant factors,
and ... there must be some correlation between actual damages and statutory damages." Def.
Reply at 8. Thus, in Defendants' view, the jury's statutory damages award must be set aside
because it is based in part on a faulty actual damages calculation. The Court disagrees.
To begin with, Defendants' premise that an overly speculative actual damages award is a
discernible error justifying remittitur is questionable for at least two reasons. First, it is not true
that there must be "some correlation" between actual and statutory damages. The Second Circuit
recently rejected a defendant's argument that the district court abused its discretion in denying
remittitur because the award had no "rational relationship" to the plaintiffs damages. Psihoyos
v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 748 F.3d 120, 126 (2d Cir. 2014) ("Psihoyos II"). The Court noted:
Although revenue lost is one factor to consider, we have not held that there must be a
direct correlation between statutory damages and actual damages. To suggest otherwise
is to ignore the various other factors a court may consider and the purposes of statutory
damages in the willful infringement context.
Id. at 127. The court agreed with the district court that other factors, such as the defendant's
profits and a perceived need for deterrence, could have justified the award. Id.; accord Yurman
Design, Inc. v. PAJ, Inc., 262 F.3d 101, 113 (2d Cir. 2001) (upholding jury's statutory damages
award that defendant argued bore "little relationship" to actual damages because "even if
[defendant's] accounting is correct, statutory damages are not meant to be merely compensatory
or restitutionary"); L.A. Printex Indus., Inc. v. Does I-IO, 543 F. App'x 110, 111 (2d Cir. 2013);
Sony BMG Music Entm 't v. Tenenbaum, 660 F.3d 487, 506-07 (1st Cir. 2011). As explained in
more detail below, the jury's statutory damages award in this case could have been based on a
number of factors, so the Court cannot discern a "quantifiable amount," Kirsch, 148 F.3d at 165,
by which any mistake in the jury's actual damages calculation might have "infected" its statutory
damages award. 6
Second, even accepting the premise that there must be "some correlation" between actual
and statutory damages, Defendants' argument that the actual damages calculation is overly
speculative is a questionable basis for attacking a statutory damages award, for reasons that the
Court explained in addressing the parties' motions in limine. Because "statutory damages are by
definition a substitute for unproven and unprovable damages," Psihoyos v. John Wiley & Sons,
Inc., No. 11-cv-1416 (JPO), 2012 WL 5506121, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2012) ("Psihoyos I")
(quoting Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 692 F.3d 899, 909-10 (8th Cir. 2012)), a less
stringent standard may govern the consideration of actual damages evidence insofar as that
evidence bears only on statutory damages. If that is true, then Defendants' argument regarding
Indeed, the First Circuit has approved a district court's instructions that the jury should arrive at statutory damages
by considering what was "just," guided by a "set of non-exhaustive factors" similar to the Bryant factors.
Tenenbaum, 660 F.3d at 503-04. That suggests that a jury need not even consider a plaintiffs actual damages at all
in setting statutory damages, see also 5 Nimmer on Copyright§ 14.04[B][l][a] (suggesting that factors guiding
statutory damages awards apply "[i]n the absence of a jury trial"), which would further suggest that an erroneous
actual damages award is not a discernible error justifying remittitur. The Court's jury instructions in this case were
consistent with the First Circuit's analysis in Tenenbaum, see Court Ex. 3 at 21 (instructing that the jury "may
consider any or all" of the Bryant factors), and Defendants did not object to them.
speculativeness-which relies on cases involving actual damages qua actual damages, Def. Br. at
21 & n.11-would be inapposite. Cf Columbia Pictures Television, 259 F.3d at 1194 ("A
plaintiff may elect statutory damages 'regardless of the adequacy of the evidence offered as to
his actual damages and the amount of the defendant's profits."' (quoting 5 Nimmer on Copyright
§ 14.04[A])). However, just as it was unnecessary to resolve that question earlier, it is also
unnecessary now, because there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that Morel
suffered $275,000 in actual damages.
Defendants base their analysis on the assumption that the jury concluded that Morel
would have sold 1,000 licenses for his photos at an average of $275 per license. But that is not
necessarily correct. There was evidence that AFP and Getty licensed the images for up to $1,450
each, see Ex. 264C at row 29, and assuming that Morel himself had received the same amount
per license, he would have had to make fewer than 200 sales to have generated $275,000.
Additionally, Morel testified that one offer he received from NBC would have paid him $500 for
a single photograph. Tr. at 171:13-20, 176:19-177:1 (Morel).
In any case, there was enough evidence for the jury to conclude that Morel would have
made 1,000 sales: that was roughly the number of customers who, the evidence showed, obtained
the images from Defendants. Exs. 137, 138, 264C, 265C; Tr. at 727:16-17, 729:4-732:5
(Calhoun); Tr. at 785:18-791:2 (Tarot). The Court cannot say that it was irrational to infer that
all of the AFP and Getty customers that downloaded the pictures would have bought them from
other sources. See Stevens Linen Assocs., Inc. v. Mastercraft Corp., 656 F.2d 11, 15 (2d Cir.
1981) (endorsing damages theory that would calculate damages by assuming defendants'
customers would have bought from plaintiff but for defendant's infringement); RSO Records,
Inc. v. Peri, 596 F. Supp. 849, 860 (S.D.N.Y. 1984) ("It would be reasonable to assume that for
every counterfeit copy of plaintiffs' copyrighted records and tapes sold by defendants plaintiffs
lost a corresponding sale."). The earthquake was a major news event, and there was evidence
that pictures from on the ground were difficult to come by in its immediate aftermath. Tr. at
301 :3-302:10 (Amalvy). In other words, it would be reasonable to conclude that there would
have been demand for Morel's photographs had Defendants not made them widely available to
their customers. That is particularly true in light of testimony that NBC reneged on its offer to
Morel because it had obtained the image from AFP. Tr. at 171: 17-22 (Morel).
Although Defendants point out that the total number of downloads by AFP and Getty
customers-roughly 1,000-included "downloads by both a la carte customers and subscription
customers who purchased their subscriptions long before Morel's photographs even existed,"
that argument misses the mark. Def. Br. at 24. Initially, it is worth noting that the 1,000download figure appears to understate the true number of downloads; while there was evidence
presented at trial about Getty's subscription downloads, see Ex. 265C; Tr. at 728:20-729:1
(Calhoun), Tarot testified that there was no way of knowing which of AFP's subscription (as
opposed to a la carte) customers had downloaded the images. Tr. at 787:13-788:2. And the
Court's prior holding that fees paid by Defendants' subscribing customers could not be used to
calculate Defendants' infringing profits is irrelevant to Morel's actual damages; it was based on
the fact that subscribers paid in advance for the right to download images from Defendants'
feeds, so revenue generated by those subscriptions could not logically be attributable to the
dissemination of Morel's images. That does not imply that Defendants' subscription customers
would not have paid Morel--or his agency, Corbis-for the photographs had the photographs
not already been made available to them through their AFP or Getty subscriptions. Indeed, at the
November 20, 2013 charging conference, the Court agreed with Defendants' suggestion that the
value placed on Morcl'3 photographs by subscription customers would be "appropriately
considered in calculating actual damages." Tr. at 892:4-7.
Defendants point out that Morel himself received only one offer to buy a photograph, but
of course he might have received more had Defendants themselves not made his photographs
widely available. And although there is some merit to Defendants' argument that Morel's spotty
internet and phone access would have made it difficult for him to close numerous sales after the
earthquake, the evidence showed that Corbis was marketing his photos as well. Assuming that
all 1,000 sales were made through Corbis, 7 Morel would not have received the entirety of the
proceeds from those sales under his existing contract; he received only 50% of Corbis's revenue
from sales for "editorial use" and 45% of its revenue from sales for "commercial use." Ex. 303
at 000189; Tr. at 211 :4-8 (Morel). But as noted, there was other evidence from which the jury
could have concluded that the per-license fee was higher than $275. Assuming that Morel
received 50% of the revenues from Corbis's 1,000 sales, those sales would have had to average
$550 to generate $275,000 in lost profits. That is just $50 higher than NBC offered Morel, and
significantly lower than the $1,450 that Getty received for one sale. Ex. 264C at row 29. There
was therefore evidence from which the jury could conclude that Morel lost $275,000 in sales
even if all those sales were made through Corbis. 8
Defendants also argue that Corbis would have earned only $29,000 from licensing the photos-the same amount
made by Defendants themselves. Def. Br. at 22-23; Def. Reply at 7. But that argument incorrectly assumes that the
number of licenses Corbis could have sold would have equaled only the number of a la carte sales that Defendants
made. As noted, had Defendants' subscription customers bought the photographs from Corbis, they would not have
been able to obtain the photos based on already-paid subscription fees.
Although Defendants do not argue that the jury double counted, it arguably would have been wrong for the jury to
include Defendants' a la carte customers in the number of sales Morel or Corbis would have made, because sales to
a la carte customers were already accounted for in Defendants' infringing profits; indeed, because the Court
precluded the jury from attributing subscription revenues to Defendants' infringement, a la carte fees composed the
entirety of those profits. But even if one excludes Defendants' a la carte customers from the total number of sales
that Morel or Corbis would have made but for Defendants' infringement, the range of prices at which Defendants
For these reasons, the Court cannot conclude that the jury's actual damages award was
impermissibly speculative. As a result, that award also cannot be a basis for remitting the jury's
statutory damages award.
2. Intrinsic Excessiveness
Apart from the actual damages calculation that Defendants argue "infected" the jury's
statutory damages award, Defendants also argue that the Court should remit the $1.2 million
award as intrinsically excessive. Although, in general, a damages award may be set aside if it is
"so high as to shock the judicial conscience and constitute a denial of justice," this is a "narrow
standard." O'Neill, 839 F.2d at 13 (quoting Zarcone v. Perry, 572 F.2d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1978))
(internal quotation mark omitted). And in the specific context of statutory damages under the
Copyright Act, Congress has placed an upper bound on the damages that a jury can award, which
mitigates the risk of a truly untethered award. Defendants concededly cite only one case in
which a court has overturned a jury's statutory damages award as excessive where the award is
within the statutory guidelines. 9 Def. Reply at 9. It is true that courts setting statutory damages
sold the photographs, and the fact that there were likely more than 1,000 downloads in total, was sufficient evidence
from which the jury could have concluded that even the total number of sales would have been at a high enough rate
to amount to $275,000 in total.
That case, Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 680 F. Supp. 2d 1045 (D. Minn. 2010), is oflimited relevance
in any event. The district court conducted three trials. After the first, at which the jury granted $222,000 in
damages, the district court concluded that it had erred in instructing the jury on liability and ordered a new trial. At
the second trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.92 million in statutory damages, and the court remitted the amount
to three times the statutory minimum, see id. at 1054-57, but the plaintiff rejected the remitted amount and another
trial was held. At that third trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.5 million, and the district court rejected the award
as violating due process-rather than on common law remittitur grounds-and again held that three times the
statutory minimum was the maximum permissible award. Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 799 F. Supp. 2d
999, 1011-14 (D. Minn. 2011) ("Thomas-Rasset IF'). That decision was vacated by the Eighth Circuit; on appeal,
however, the plaintiff sought only the original $222,000 award, and the Eighth Circuit rejected the defendant's
argument that that lower award was unconstitutional. Capitol Records, Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, 692 F.3d 899, 907910 (8th Cir. 2012). To the extent that the district court's opinions remain authoritative, they are inapposite here
because the case involved "a first-time willful, consumer infringer oflimited means who committed illegal song filesharing for her own personal use." Thomas-Rasset II, 799 F. Supp. 2d at 1001.
after bench trials or defaults have often awarded less than the jury did in this case, even where
the infringing conduct could be characterized as more culpable. Def. Br. at 28-34. But the
question is not what this Court would award were it deciding the question itself; the question is
whether the jury's award is so excessive that the Court should intrude on its prerogative to set
damages. See Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., 523 U.S. 340, 347-55 (1998)
(recognizing the right to have a jury determine statutory damages); Superior Form Builders, Inc.
v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., 74 F.3d 488, 496 (4th Cir. 1996) (jury's award is entitled to
significant deference); Psihoyos I, 2012 WL 5506121, at *1 (because remittitur involves
usurping the jury's authority to set damages, it is justified only in limited situations).
As noted, the Second Circuit has rejected the argument that statutory damages must have
"a direct correlation" with actual damages. Psihoyos II, 748 F.3d at 127. The jury was entitled
to consider other factors, including Defendants' state of mind, a perceived need to deter
Defendants and third parties, Defendants' "cooperation in providing evidence concerning the
value of the infringing material," and the parties' conduct and attitude. See Bryant, 603 F.3d at
144. There was evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Defendants'
infringement (and particularly AFP's) was not just willful but reflected a gross disregard for the
rights of copyright holders. In the light most favorable to Morel, AFP not only took Morel's
photographs from Twitter without pausing to consider whether it was infringing the copyright
owner's rights, but also continued selling the photographs (with an "AFP" identifier) even after
learning of its infringement on the assumption that the only price to pay would be an after-thefact payment close to what Morel would have earned had Defendants obeyed the law.
Additionally, although Defendants contend that the jury should not have considered
deterrence as a meaningful factor in light of evidence that AFP and Getty "have each already
made changes to improve their systems and practices," Def Br. at 30, "an inclination on the part
of the jury to impose a penalty to deter similar conduct in the future is not erroneous,
notwithstanding the ... revised policies, given the evidence of reckless conduct in the past."
Psihoyos I, 2012 WL 5506121, at *4. And as the Court held in addressing the parties' motions
in limine, it would have been appropriate for the jury to consider the fact that AFP and Getty are
large companies in assessing deterrence. Final Pre-Trial Conf. Tr. at 21 :9-19. It also would
have been appropriate, under Bryant, to consider the deterrent effect on other potential infringers,
which may not have changed their policies in the way that Defendants here claim to have done.
See Bryant, 603 F.3d at 144; Psihoyos I, 2012 WL 5506121, at *4. In sum, the Court concludes
that in light of all the considerations that the jury was entitled to consider, remittitur of the $1.2
million statutory damages award is not required.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter oflaw, a new
trial, and/or remittitur is GRANTED insofar as the Court grants judgment as a matter oflaw to
Getty on Morel's claim under§ 1202(b) of the DMCA. Accordingly, the jury's award is altered
such that AFP and Getty continue to be jointly liable for $1,210,000 and AFP is individually
liable for the remaining $10,000. The remainder of Defendants' motion is DENIED.
The parties have stipulated that the deadline for taxing costs and submitting any motions
for attorneys' fees is fourteen days from the date of this order. Dkt. No. 311. The opposition
and reply deadlines for any such motions will be governed by the Federal and Local Rules,
unless the parties, within fourteen days, submit for the Court's approval a stipulation setting
This resolves Docket No. 313.
Dated: August 13, 2014
New York, New York
United States District Judge
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