Photographer Who Settled With Twitter Over Copyright Infringement Allegations Now Targeting Google
from the betting-on-lightning-strikes dept
Photographer Christopher Boffoli is back, once again suing big names for copyright infringement performed by users. Back in 2012, Boffoli sued Twitter for its supposed refusal to remove infringing copies of his "little figurines with real-sized food" photos from users' accounts despite being notified via DMCA takedown requests.
While he stated at the time that he was flattered by people reposting his photos and generally thought the internet provided a cheap and easy way to obtain notoriety, he still pursued a lawsuit against Twitter because… well, a bigger target is always a better target. (He has since sued Vingle, Hootsuite, WHI, Inc. and Network Data Center Host, Inc.) Boffoli's lawsuit did have at least one solid point: if you want to avail yourself of DMCA safe harbors, you need to respond to takedown requests.
This case was settled for an undisclosed amount (if money changed hands at all) and Boffoli dropped his suit against Twitter. Now, it appears he wants to bag another tech leader and has filed an almost identical lawsuit against Google.
He alleges that Google ignored takedown requests for two sites he claims the search engine giant owns. One it clearly does (Blogspot) but the other (bursuk.org) doesn't seem to be among this long, long list of Google holdings (xls). Boffoli filed DMCA notices last December and the content still hadn't been removed (or the users "prevented from posting") by Google 100 days later, leading to this lawsuit.
Once again, Boffoli makes claims that will be hard to prove.
Google induced, caused, or materially contributed to the Infringing Website’s publication.This is the toughest claim to defend. Failing to take down content when notified is not the same as inducement or material contribution. As lawyer Evan Brown explained when Boffoli sued Twitter, simply providing hosting is not enough to lend material support to someone else's infringement. It's also highly unlikely Google did anything approaching the inducement of infringement. As is constantly reported, Google de-lists thousands of links every day, so it's obviously making an effort.
That Boffoli could only track down two sites tied to Google (and one of those is open to debate) is an indication of the company's responsiveness to takedown requests. Once again, it appears Boffoli is hoping for a settlement of some sort rather than the jury trial requested. It's a whole lot easier to serve Google than it is to go after the actual infringers and Boffoli is taking the easier (and more familiar) route. As Mike opined during Boffoli's initial infringement lawsuit, this has all the hallmarks of a "Steve Dallas lawsuit" -- something pursued not because the named party is in the wrong, but because that party has deeper pockets.