On July 27, 2015, lawyers for Kristin Pierson filed suit against Twitter, Inc. for copyright infringement in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. In the Complaint, Ms. Pierson alleges that she is the holder, since 2012, of registered copyright in certain photographic images. According to the allegations, “Pierson is an award-winning photographer who specializes in event and live-music photography. She owns all rights to an image of guitarist Herman Li of the band Dragonforce displayed without her permission on Twitter (the ‘Infringing Image’).” The Complaint further alleges that: “A Twitter user or users copied the Infringing Image without license or permission from Pierson and on information and belief sent one or more Tweets publicizing and linking to it (the “Infringing Uses”). The Infringing Uses were hosted either on Twitter or on third-party servers.”
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) allows an internet service provider safe harbor from infringement liability provided that “the service provider responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the infringing material once notified of the claimed infringement.” 17 U.S.C. section 512(c). Pierson alleges that she complied with the notice provisions of the DMCA by sending notice of the infringing photos on March 4, 2014 to Twitter’s agent for service, but that “Twitter failed to expeditiously disable access to or remove the Infringing Uses.” Pierson seeks an injunction ordering Twitter to take down the infringing photographs and destroy them and seeks actual and enhanced statutory damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. It will be interesting to see, if it comes to light, what sort of investigation Twitter did upon receiving notice.