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District judge dismisses attorney’s copyright infringement claim on photo

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District judge dismisses attorney’s copyright infringement claim on photo

Postby MrFredPFL » Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:01 am

Story :

A retired attorney with an extensive history of filing copyright infringement complaints related to a photo of the Indianapolis skyline can no longer pursue one of those complaints after the Indiana Southern District Court granted his defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on Friday.

After taking a photo of the Indianapolis skyline in 2000, Richard Bell, a retired McCordsville attorney, discovered in August 2016 the photo was being used on the Indiana University Medical School’s pediatric residency website. Bell initially filed a copyright infringement and unfair competition claim against IU, but later amended the complaint to name medical school dean Jay Hess as the sole defendant.

Bell’s second amended complaint alleged Hess – whom he claimed to be suing in his individual, not official, capacity – had supervisory control over the website and “permitted employees of the Medical School and residency program to download the Indianapolis Photo from the internet without permission from Bell and then copy it” onto the website. Hess, however, claimed the case was brought against him in his official capacity as the medical school dean, thus entitling him to 11th Amendment sovereign immunity.

In response, Bell argued the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), exempted Hess from sovereign immunity because there was still an ongoing violation of federal law. Though IU removed the disputed photo from the pediatrics webpage, Bell was still able to locate an archived version of the webpage that included the photo via, an online internet archives service.

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