It would appear a certain Seattle paper-pushing copyright clerk / attorney does not like his images appearing in memes and parodies. I received a copyright infringement /defamation letter earlier this month. The complete letter is below for all to see.
The main post which contained the images, was simply a collection of memes that were created by a number of people, and being that I’m a nice guy, I figured it would do no harm to remove said images. Since McCormack Intellectual Property Law was also kind enough to supply me with screen shots, I will simply remove the offending images and make this new post, which will naturally contain those screen shots as well as the complete letter I received. ( need I point out “Fair use” as in “commentary” and my First Amendment rights?).
I’m not going to get into the whole defamation thing, as I find it totally crazy and off the rails that I cannot be entitled to my opinion in this matter.. He refers in his letter to the use of the words “turds, asses and other derogatory terminology” as portraying him in a false light.
Let me state right here, right now that IT IS MY OPINION that the law firm of McCormack Intellectual Property Law is full of turds and asses and douche-nozzles among many other things. But I digress, a formal response will be forthcoming in the near future.
Now onto the copyright issue, as I’m naturally curious… is the “headshot” in question actually registered? I just found out his photo was registered only 3 weeks ago in preparation for the letter he sent me. However, does he truly own the copyright? It didn’t look like a “selfie”.
You see the thing with copyright, as Seattle Attorney Timothy B MCcormack has pointed out countless times, is that copyright exists at the moment of creation, and belongs to the “creator”. I can easily snap a picture of a friend and tell that friend that he / she can use the image, but I still retain the copyright to that image unless it is properly transferred. I see no proof of this either and naturally McCormack of McCormack Intellectual Property Law wasn’t kind enough to supply such proof.
Below is the complete text of the letter, along with screen captures of the screen captures that were included in the letter.
McCormack lntellectual Property Law
Business Law PS
617 Lee Street
Seattle, WA 98109 USA
p.206.381.8888 / f.206.381.1988
Timothy B. McCormack
Attorney at Law
January 21, 2014
Via Federal Express (Adult Signature Required) & U.S. Mail
Mr. Robert Krausankas
Jupiter, FL 33458
RE: NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT & UNAUTHORIZED USE OF TIMOTHY MCCORMACK’S IMAGE
It has come to our attention that you have been using a photograph titled “Timothy McCormack Headshot” owned by McCormack Intellectual Property Law PS (hereinafter “Photograph”). A copy is enclosed. The website www.copyright-trolls.com has not licensed the use of the Photograph. It is our understanding that you administer this website.
The Photograph is copyrighted. You have no right to copy or display the Photograph. We demand that you immediately CEASE AND DESIST use and display of the Photograph from any and all of your websites and other materials. The author of the Photograph, McCormack Intellectual Property Law PS, is located in Seattle, Washington and is directly affected by your unlicensed display of the Photograph.
YOU HAVE COMMITTED COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
To establish a claim of copyright infringement, our law firm only needs to show that you used, copied or displayed the Photograph without authorization. This letter is notification of the pending copyright infringement claim. This means that you and your company, officers, and other individuals involved in the infringement can be liable for damages. Any further display of the Photograph will be considered willful infringement and give rise to statutory damages and personal jurisdiction in Washington State.
Personal liability extends to the people running the company based on contributory and vicarious liability. The Photograph is specifically protected under the United States copyright statute. See, e.g., 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. (2007). The damages offered by the copyright statute for the type of infringing activities that you are engaging in range from $30,000 to $150,000 per infringement. 17 U.S.C. 504 (2005) (“award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $ 150,000 [per infringement]”).
DEFAMATION, HARASSMENT, & STATE LAW CLAIMS
In addition to the pending copyright infringement claim, the method of use of the Photograph is defamatory to Mr. McCormack’s reputation as a legal professional by the false references to turds, asses, and other derogatory terminology placed across the Photograph and portraying him in a false light. These false statements have been published to the world via the lnternet. This defamation has been purposefully directed at Washington State by the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technology and based on the location of Mr. McCormack, his business, and damages. Such use is defamation per se whereby damages are presumed. See e.g Maison de France, Ltd. v. Mais Oui!, Inc.,126 Wn. App. 34 (Div. 1, 2005). Such use may also be considered harassment under both common law and the Communications Decency Act. 47 U.S.C. 230; RCW 10.14.020 et seq.
JURISDICTION EXTENDED FOR WILLFUL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, DEFAMATION, HARASSMENT, & STATE LAW CLAIMS
Your actions directed toward a Washington entity give rise to jurisdiction in the state of Washington because the damages are felt in that forum state. Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has also held that willful copyright infringement creates personal jurisdiction in the forum state. Washington Shoe Company v. A-Z Sporting Goods, Inc., 704 F .3d 668 (9th Cir. 2012). This means that an out-of-state willful copyright infringer cannot escape litigation in Washington State by claiming lack of personal jurisdiction. A Washington State copyright holder can sue the willful copyright infringer in Washington State even if the infringer never stepped foot in the State of Washington. Once judgment is obtained in Washington, the judgment may be taken to the infringer’s home state to be leveraged against his assets in his home state.
Use of the Photograph without a valid license is considered copyright infringement in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act. Within 14 days of the date of this notice please take the following action: immediately cease and desist use of the Photograph and remove it from your websites.
In order to resolve this matter, provide our law firm with the following:
1. Signed confirmation that you have removed all copies of the Photograph.
2. Web analytics to the websites you administer (or administered) for the last three years, including number of visitors to the website per month for the last three years.
3. All web-advertising money received through the websites for the last three years.
4. Receipts of all payments received through the websites for the last three years.
After we have received the above information and undertaking, we will then be able to discuss resolution of this matter. This letter is written without prejudice to McCormack lntellectual Property Law PS and Timothy B. McCormack’s legal rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved. Let me know your decision within 14 days of receiving this letter.
Timothy B. McCormack