HBO Faces Lawsuit Over Courtroom Sketches in Documentary

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

June 27 — Two courtroom sketch artists are suing HBO and the makers of a 2014 documentary about the FBI's investigation of an alleged 2009 terrorist plot, according to a complaint filed June 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ( Shepard v. Home Box Office, Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 16-04909, complaint filed 6/24/16 ).

The complaint said that the “ Newburgh Sting” documentary displayed courtroom drawings by Andrea Shepard and Shirley Shepard without their permission.

The plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages of $150,000 for each infringed work as well as an injunction preventing HBO from showing the documentary again or otherwise profiting from it.

The defendants include Home Box Office Inc., which broadcast the documentary, as well as producers CovertProductions LLC, Broad Street Review and Daniel Rottenberg.

The movie displays the plaintiffs' sketches with their signatures removed, which should establish that the infringement was intentional, the complaint said.

The documentary tells the story of four Muslim men in New York who the FBI accused of conspiring to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. The defendants' lawyers claimed that the FBI entrapped them.

The film won a 2014 Peabody Award. It has also been nominated for other awards and featured at film festivals.

Garbarini FitzGerald P.C. represented the plaintiffs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at

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