Liability for removing copyright management information
Not everything that Liebowitz works on leads to him being sanctioned.
Gregory Mango, a photographer, sued BuzzFeed for copyright infringement and for removing his gutter credit -- which is copyright management information (CMI) -- in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), 17 U.S.C. § 1202(b)(3). The law states:
No person shall, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law . . .
(3) distribute, import for distribution, or publicly perform 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, knowing, or, with respect to civil remedies under section 1203, having reasonable grounds to know, that it will induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement of any right under this title.
The District Court found that BuzzFeed knew that the CMI had been removed and altered without permission and that “BuzzFeed had reasonable grounds to know that such removal and distribution concealed a[n] . . . infringement.” Mango v. BuzzFeed, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 3d 368, 377 (S.D.N.Y. 2019). The District Court then awarded Mango statutory damages for violation of the DMCA and attorney fees.
BuzzFeed appealed "arguing that it did not know that its conduct would lead to future, third-party copyright infringement" (Opinion at 1).
The Court of Appeals held that the "DMCA does not require Mango to prove that BuzzFeed knew its actions would lead to future, third-party infringement" (Opinion at 1).
This case should make it easier for photographers to raise successful DMCA claims because photographers no longer have to prove that the infringer knew that their actions would lead to third-party infringement.