In the United States, a woman filed a lawsuit against a congressman for using a copyrighted “meme” during a political campaign without prior authorization.
The action was filed before the Sioux District Court in the State of Iowa, where the plaintiff questioned that the “meme” that was actually the photograph of her son raising a fist in affirmation known as “Success Kid”, which was registered in the Copyright Office of that country since 2012, it was used at the end of 2020 by a congressman Steve King in a political campaign that sought to raise funds that was published on social networks and on the defendant’s website, all of this without authorization from the plaintiff, which implied a violation of her copyright.
In the United States, a woman filed a lawsuit against a congressman for using a copyrighted “meme” during a political campaign without prior authorization… which implied a violation of his copyright.
Although the defendant claimed that he was not infringing, that the photograph lacked sufficient authorship on the part of the plaintiff to be subject to copyright and that the actors also granted an implicit license to use the work, while the author abandoned their copyright in the photo and I can’t prove that an illegal copy was used, even if they were found to be infringing they pointed out that their use constituted fair use under copyright law American intellectual.
The court granted a summary judgment in favor of the congressman because, according to him, he could not be responsible for the acts of his campaign committee just because he was a member or director, having shown that he was not personally responsible for an infraction, despite the fact that the actors alleged that it was he himself who uploaded the photograph to his Twitter account, it was proven that his only intervention in relation to the facts was the approval of the apology language and that none of the committee knew that the image had copyright, which arose from a email chain. In addition, it was understood that the lawsuit was filed against the congressman as the author in his personal capacity, and not as a member of a committee.
The jury decided that the campaign effectively violated the copyright of the actors and ordered the payment of damages for the minimum allowed by law, that is, 750 dollars, but like the judge they considered that the congressman did not personally violate the copyright by not knowing the meme before its publication by its committee and that on the other hand the publication could not be considered as invading the privacy of the actor included in the photograph when he was a child.
As for the lawsuits against the committee for the violation of copyright, and for the invasion of the privacy of the child in the photograph, now an adult, they had to be debated by a jury to determine if the modified version of the photograph continued to constitute an infraction.
Finally, the jury decided that the campaign effectively violated the copyright of the actors and ordered the payment of damages for the minimum allowed by law, that is, 750 dollars, but like the judge they considered that the congressman did not violate personally the author’s rights by not knowing the meme before its publication by his committee and that on the other hand the publication could not be considered an invasion of the privacy of the actor included in the photograph when he was a child.
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