California Intellectual Property Blog


Buzzfeed Sued Over Copyright To Katy Perry Bikini Photos, Kathy Griffin Topless Shots

no-camera Los Angeles – Mavrix Photo Inc. filed a copyright infringement case in Los Angeles federal court against Buzzfeed Inc. last week alleging the popular news website misappropriated photos for which the agency holds copyrights, including pictures of Katy Perry in a bikini and Kathy Griffin dancing topless outdoors.

Despite having no permission, consent or license to do so, Buzzfeed publicly reproduced, distributed and displayed images of superstar pop singer Perry on a rooftop in a revealing outfit and in and around a swimming pool wearing a bikini, Mavrix says. The website also posted photos of actress and comedian Griffin wearing nothing but a bikini bottom, cavorting alongside a dock in Miami.

In the marketplace, celebrity photos such as those at issue in the case carry tremendous monetary value, the photo agency says. Mavrix procures celebrity photos at a significant cost and licenses those images to various third parties to create highly sought-after features on television, in print and online, it says

“Despite its economic resources and apparent sophistication on intellectual property matters, Buzzfeed has, on information and belief, violated federal law by willfully infringing Mavrix copyrights to at least nine different photographs on,” the complaint says.

Buzzfeed’s website draws over 25 million unique visitors per month, according to the complaint.

“Defendants herein have driven massive traffic to — 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,” it says. “All of this traffic translates into significant ill-gotten commercial advantage and revenue generation for defendants as a direct consequence of their infringing actions.”

Buzzfeed has not registered and has not designated an agent with the Copyright Office under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, nor is its business model one that entitles it to any limitations on liability under the DMCA, Mavrix says.

Buzzfeed is a sophisticated online publisher with full knowledge of the strictures of federal copyright law and the basic requirements for licensing the use of copyrighted content for commercial exploitation, and nevertheless willfully infringed the copyrights to the photos, according to Mavrix.

Mavrix is seeking statutory damages of $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed, amounting to a total requested award of $1.35 million. It is also seeking actual damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.


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