Copyright Claim Against Tumblr May Test Immunity of Photo Sharing Sites

by David Walker

A publisher has filed a copyright infringement case against Tumblr, launching what could be a test of legal rights and responsibilities of photo sharing services and their customers. The outcome could determine the limits of protection photo sharing services such as Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitpic have from claims over infringements committed by their subscribers.

Perfect 10, a San Diego-based publisher of pornography, has filed suit alleging that Tumblr ignored repeated requests to remove photos that had been uploaded to Tumblr without authorization from Perfect 10.

Perfect 10 says it sent six take-down notices to Tumblr during September, October and December, 2011. But Tumblr has for the most part ignored the notices, Perfect 10 alleges. "Tumblr has failed to completely process any of Perfect 10's [take-down] notices, taking down at most only a handful of the over 200 infringing images."

Many of those images had Perfect 10 copyright notices or watermarks "conspicuously placed on the images."

Perfect 10 says Tumblr should be held liable for failure to abide by its obligations under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and for willfully ignoring the widespread and uncontrolled copyright infringment pervading its web site.

The DMCA shields internet service providers from infringement claims if they respond quickly to take-down notices from copyright holders by removing any infringing content posted by users of the service.

Tumblr allows its account holders to post and share images, music, and videos on its servers. Perfect 10 alleges that Tumblr employees "posted infringing content," including Perfect 10's copyrighted works, to Tumblr servers "to help start the business."

Perfect 10 also alleges that Tumblr "knew or had reason to know that one or more of its subscribers have posted infringing copies of Perfect 10 Copyrighted Works through its services and on its website." Tumblr subscribers  "continue to display and distribute the infringing content," the lawsuit says.

Perfect 10 says Tumblr "turns a blind eye to the extensive copyright infringement taking place through its services" despite Tumblr's own written policy "to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement."

By not following DMCA requirements, and permitting infringement to continue, "Tumblr has contributed to the infringing activities of its subscribers," Perfect 10 alleges.

Perfect 10 is seeking an injunction to stop the infringement, and "not less than $5 million in actual damages, or statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each work that was infringed.

Tumblr has yet to file a response to the claim, and a trial date has not been set.

It remains to be seen whether Perfect 10 or Tumblr drags any Tumblr users into the case. As a condition of using Tumblr, subscribers must certify that they have the right to post whatever content they display on Tumblr, and agree to release Tumblr from any liability for infringement claims by third parties. 

comments powered by Disqus

MORE news


PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



Tout VTS



Contact PDN | About Photo District News | Camera Reviews and Gear Guide | Photography Blog | Photo News | Photo Magazine- Print Subscription |
Photography RSS Resources | Free Photography Newsletter | Photo Magazine Advertising | Photographer Features & Resources | Stock Photographs
© Emerald Expositions 2015. All rights reserved. Read our TERMS OF USE and PRIVACY POLICY