A London-based photojournalist is suing Yahoo! Inc. for allegedly infringing upon his award-winning, copyrighted photograph.  Yahoo has already taken the photo down, according to the photojournalist’s counsel.  But the lawsuit goes on. 

Plaintiff Alessandro Masi alleges that Yahoo willfully and intentionally featured the photograph on its website without permission.   He alleges violations of the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and seeks damages of up to $150,000.

The DMCA has a safe harbor provision that protects internet service providers from liability for infringing content posted by users, as long as they promptly take the content down upon receiving notice. 

Richard Liebowitz of Liebowitz Law Firm PLLC in New York—Masi’s counsel—said that Yahoo’s removal of the photo was irrelevant in this case.  He said that the DMCA safe harbor doesn’t apply because the infringing activity was allegedly under Yahoo’s control.

Whether the content was posted by a third party contributor or by Yahoo directly remains unclear. 

Yahoo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Back in April, a fine art photographer sued Instagram for displaying her copyrighted photo.  Although the photographer voluntarily dismissed her claim against the social media site, her complaint alleged that Instagram failed to remove the image despite receiving several takedown notices.

It remains to be seen whether Yahoo will invoke the DMCA safe harbor defense, and, if it gets that far, how the court will rule.


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