Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr., the blogger known as Perez Hilton, has often been able to circumvent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations by “transforming” copyrighted images. Hilton frequently writes captions or draws scribbles on the photos that allow him to claim “fair use” protection. However, Hilton has certainly faced copyright infringement allegations on multiple occasions. In November 2006, celebrity photo agency X17Online filed a lawsuit against Hilton for copyright infringement. In April 2007, five celebrity photo agencies filed a joint lawsuit against the blogger, alleging 25 instances of copyright infringement. In addition, Zomba Label Group filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in October 2007 claiming that Hilton illegally posted Britney Spears recordings on PerezHilton.com. The website has a copyright statement page that provides a contact email for people who believe that content on PerezHilton.com infringe on their copyright.
Last month, freelance photographer Robert Caplin filed a copyright infringement and DMCA violation complaint against Hilton. According to the photography blog PetaPixel, Caplin posted 32 photos of Fox TV show “Glee” star Darren Criss on his PhotoShelter website. The photos also accompanied a New York Times story about Criss’ Broadway debut, but Caplin had posted a copyright notice and watermarked each image with his logo in the photos posted to his website. PetaPixel said that Caplin also enabled PhotoShelter’s “Image Theft Guard” feature which disables right+click or dragging of images to copy them to the desktop.
Despite these efforts, Hilton used screenshots of 14 of the images, removed the copyright notices and applied his own watermark. As PetaPixel noted, Hilton not only committed copyright infringement by publishing the images without permission—even after he was notified—but he also committed a DMCA violation by removing the copyright management information from the images. While Hilton allegedly apologized and agreed to remove the offending images from his website when Caplin spoke to him directly, Hilton never took down the images.
If you need legal assistance protecting your intellectual property, Los Angeles business litigation attorney Robert G. Klein has over 25 years of experience helping companies in complex copyright claims. Contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Los Angeles copyright infringement lawyer review your case.
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