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Lawyer Who Used Photo to Sue Hundreds Could Owe Defendants $20 million (US)

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Lawyer Who Used Photo to Sue Hundreds Could Owe Defendants $20 million (US)

Postby MrFredPFL » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:43 pm

Story :

This week a federal jury determined that Richard Bell did not own a nearly twenty-year-old photo of the Indianapolis skyline — a photo he reportedly used to extract payment from hundreds of businesses and individuals who used the photo unaware that Bell claimed a copyright to the online image.

Indianapolis-based Carmen Commercial Real Estate Services challenged Bell in federal court in 2016 after he attempted to collect $5,000 in payment from the real-estate firm to settle what Bell claimed was copyright infringement. Christopher Carmen, who wasn’t aware that Bell claimed to own the photo, readily apologized for using the image in a commercial blog, and offered to pay him $1,000 in an act of good faith. Carmen’s offer was 200 times more than the $5 market rate for rights to similar photos. Bell refused Carmen’s offer, and launched a legal suit attempting to collect $150,000.

“The jury determined Mr. Bell did not own the photo, which now means all of the defendants he has sued across the country should be able to use this jury finding to get their cases decided in their favor,” said Overhauser. “And because a prevailing defendant in a copyright suit can usually recover its attorney’s fees, Mr. Bell could be ordered to pay the attorney fees for all of those defendants.”

While pleased with his victory in the case, Carmen is concerned for other small businesses who could fall victim to copyright troll litigation.


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