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Mavrix v BuzzFeed

Mavrix v BuzzFeed

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Published by: jeff_roberts881 on Oct 17, 2012
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Case 2:12-cv-08715-CAS-RZ Document 1

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U.S.C. § 1400(a) in that the claim arises in this Judicial District, the Defendants may be found and transact business in this Judicial District, and the injury suffered by Plaintiff took place in this Judicial District. Defendants are subject to the general and specific personal jurisdiction of this Court because of their contacts with the State of California. PARTIES 3. Plaintiff Mavrix is a corporation incorporated and existing under the laws of

Florida, with offices located in Miami, Florida and Los Angeles, California. 4. Mavrix is informed and believes that BuzzFeed is a Delaware corporation, with its principal place of business at 54 West 21st Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10010. 5. Mavrix is informed and believes that BuzzFeed has not registered and has not

designated an agent with the Copyright Office under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), nor is its business model one that is entitled to any limitations on liability under the DMCA. 6. DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, are unknown to Plaintiff, who therefore sues

said Defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiff will seek leave of Court to amend this Complaint and insert the true names and capacities of said Defendants when the same have been ascertained. Plaintiff is informed and believes and, upon such, alleges that each of the Defendants designated herein as a “DOE” is legally responsible in some manner for the events and happenings herein alleged, and that Plaintiff’s damages as alleged herein were proximately caused by such Defendants. STATEMENT OF FACTS The Defendants and the Marketplace 7. On information and belief, BuzzFeed owns and operates a website,

BuzzFeed.com that purports to be a leading social news organization. 8. BuzzFeed boasts of BuzzFeed.com’s widespread popularity, claiming to reach

more than 25 million monthly unique visitors. 9. Despite its economic resources and apparent sophistication on intellectual
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COMPLAINT

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property matters, BuzzFeed has, on information and belief, violated federal law by willfully infringing Mavrix copyrights to at least 9 different photographs on BuzzFeed.com. 10. In the marketplace, celebrity photos such as those at issue in this case carry

tremendous monetary value. Mavrix procures images of celebrities at a significant cost and licenses these images to various third parties to create highly sought after feature spreads, among other things, on television, print, and online. 11. Defendants herein have driven massive traffic to BuzzFeed.com—including

millions of visitors monthly across the United States and California—in part due to the presence of the sought after and searched-for celebrity images that frame this dispute. All of this traffic translates into significant ill-gotten commercial advantage and revenue generation for Defendants as a direct consequence of their infringing actions. The Photos Forming the Subject Matter of This Dispute 12. Mavrix is a prominent celebrity photography agency that licenses its

photographs on an exclusive and non-exclusive basis to a multitude of top-tier media outlets, including the world’s leading newspapers, television programs, and magazines, such as, e.g., People and US Weekly. 13. BuzzFeed has reproduced, publicly distributed, and publicly displayed

copyright-protected photographs belonging to Mavrix on numerous occasions via its website without Mavrix’s permission, consent, or license. 14. Despite having no permission, consent, or license to do so, on or around June

6, 2011, and other subsequent dates including but not limited to September 28, 2012, BuzzFeed reproduced, publicly distributed, and publicly displayed certain images of superstar singer Katy Perry on a rooftop in Miami belonging to Mavrix (the “Perry Rooftop Photos”). True and correct copies of BuzzFeed’s website demonstrating its unauthorized use of these photos is attached hereto as Exhibit 1. Mavrix sought a copyright registration for these photos within 90 days of their first publication, and the copyright registration for these photos is attached hereto as Exhibit 4. 15. Despite having no permission, consent, or license to do so, on or around June
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COMPLAINT

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24, 2011, and other subsequent dates including but not limited to September 28, 2012, BuzzFeed reproduced, publicly distributed, and publicly displayed certain images of superstar singer Katy Perry in a bikini in Miami belonging to Mavrix (the “Perry Bikini Photos”). True and correct copies of BuzzFeed’s website demonstrating its unauthorized use of these photos is attached hereto as Exhibit 2. Mavrix sought a copyright registration for these photos within 90 days of their first publication, and the copyright registration for these photos is attached hereto as Exhibit 5. 16. Despite having no permission, consent, or license to do so, on or around

March 29, 2011, and other subsequent dates including but not limited to July 6, 2011, BuzzFeed reproduced, publicly distributed, and publicly displayed certain images of actress and comedian Kathy Griffin belonging to Mavrix (the “Griffin Photos”). True and correct copies of BuzzFeed’s website demonstrating its unauthorized use of these photos is attached as Exhibit 3. Mavrix sought a copyright registration of these photos within 90 days of their first publication and the copyright registration for these photos is attached hereto as Exhibit 6. 17. The Perry Rooftop Photos, Perry Bikini Photos, and Griffin Photos are

collectively referenced herein as the “Mavrix Photos.” BuzzFeed has reproduced, distributed, and publicly displayed at least 9 of the Mavrix Photos, and derivatives thereof, on its website without permission, consent, or license from Mavrix, as evidenced in Exhibits 1-3. FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF (Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 501) 18. 17 above. 19. Mavrix is the rightsholder to the copyrights of the Mavrix Photos, which Mavrix incorporates here by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through

substantially consist of material wholly original with Mavrix and which constitute copyright subject matter under the laws of the United States. Mavrix complied in all respects with the Copyright Act and all of the laws of the United States governing
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COMPLAINT

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copyrights. The Mavrix Photos have been timely registered with the United States Copyright Office. Attached hereto as Exhibits 4-6 are the Copyright Registration Certificates for the Mavrix Photos. 20. Defendants have directly, vicariously, and/or contributorily infringed, and

unless enjoined, will continue to infringe Mavrix’s copyrights by reproducing, displaying, distributing, and utilizing the Mavrix Photos for purposes of trade in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501 et seq. 21. Defendants have willfully infringed, and unless enjoined, will continue to

infringe Mavrix’s copyrights by knowingly reproducing, displaying, distributing, and utilizing the Mavrix Photos for purposes of trade. 22. On information and belief, Defendants’ acts of infringement are willful

because, inter alia, Defendants are sophisticated online publishers with full knowledge of the strictures of federal copyright law and the basic requirements for licensing the use of copyrighted content for commercial exploitation. 23. On information and belief, Defendants, despite such knowledge, willfully

reproduced, publicly distributed, and publicly displayed the Mavrix Photos on BuzzFeed.com. 24. Defendants have received substantial benefits in connection with the

unauthorized reproduction, display, distribution, and utilization of the Mavrix Photos for purposes of trade, including by increasing the traffic to Defendants’ website and, thus, increasing the advertising fees realized. 25. Defendants’ actions were at all times performed without Mavrix’s permission,

license, or consent. 26. Defendants’ wrongful acts have caused, and are causing, great injury to

Mavrix, of which damages cannot be accurately computed, and unless this Court restrains Defendants from further commission of said acts, Mavrix will suffer irreparable injury, for all of which it is without an adequate remedy at law. Accordingly, Mavrix seeks a declaration that Defendants are infringing Mavrix’s copyrights and an order under 17
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COMPLAINT

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U.S.C. § 502 enjoining Defendants from any further infringement of Mavrix’s copyrights. 27. As a result of the Defendants’ acts alleged herein, Mavrix has suffered and is

suffering substantial damage to its business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of profits, injury to goodwill and reputation, and the dilution of the value of its rights, all of which are not yet fully ascertainable. 28. Because of the willful nature of the copyright infringement, Mavrix is entitled

to an award of statutory damages equal to $150,000 per work infringed. 29. Mavrix has identified at least 9 works infringed by Defendants, which

occurred by way of reproduction, public distribution, and public display of the Mavrix Photos on BuzzFeed.com. 30. At least 9 of the works infringed are eligible for statutory damages. Therefore,

Mavrix is entitled to an award of $1,350,000 in statutory damages. 31. Alternatively, at its discretion, Mavrix is entitled to actual damages in an

amount to be proven at trial for the infringement of all works at issue. 32. Mavrix is also entitled to its attorney’s fees in prosecuting this action.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE, Mavrix requests judgment against Defendants as follows: 1. Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, representatives,

and attorneys, and all persons in active concert or participation with them, be permanently enjoined from designing, copying, reproducing, displaying, promoting, advertising, distributing, or selling, or any other form of dealing or transaction in, any and all advertising and promotional materials, print media, signs, websites, or any other media, either now known or hereafter devised, bearing any image, design, or mark that infringes, contributorily infringes, or vicariously infringes upon Mavrix’s rights in the photographs at issue. 2. Defendants be held liable to Mavrix in statutory damages for copyright
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COMPLAINT

infringement, including willful infringement, in accordance with 17 U.S.C. §§ 504(a)(2) &

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