Last week twitter was a flutter with news that a New Jersey based media group filed a lawsuit against a hobby blog for images it posted depicting house parties of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Suddenly bloggers were scrabbling to review their blogs to determine what was permitted and not permitted to post.
What was the law on copyright infringement? Were they violating the law? Why would a media group go to such lengths to target a reality tv blogger? Who would be next?
One blog commenced posting images with the logo “Stolen From ____” in order to give credit to the image origins.
Another blog indicated it would no longer utilize images so as not to be forced to maneuver thru the maze of copyright laws.
Most surprising was the reaction of one Bravo personality who responded as follows:
Since the lawsuit was a dispute over images, it is unclear to what Rich Wakile referred when he expressed his hope for “the TRUTH.” Considering his repeated role as a Defendant, Wakile’s tweet was absurd – Bless His Heart.
So the question that Faux Reality seeks to answer is: Under what circumstances can bloggers post images? This article is not intended to render legal advice nor should it be relied upon as a legal interpretation. But rather a layperson’s interpretation of the law and cases reviewed herein.
On or about June 13, 2012, North Jersey Media Group filed a complaint against a blogger and reporter by the name of Victor Sasson (hereinafter “Sasson”). The suit alleged that Sasson violated copyright laws by using images and stories that were initially published in the Bergen Record on his blog. Complaint, North Jersey Media Group vs Victor Sasson Docket No. 2:12-cv-03568.
On January 4, 2013, the Court dismissed Three of the Four Counts of the Complaint. After a thorough analysis of the Complaint, the Court found that North Jersey Media could not claim copyright infringement BEFORE it obtained a Certificate of Copyright Registration from the United States Copyright Office. The Court concluded that applying for a certificate is not enough to prove a case for copyright infringement, the Certificate must be issued to maintain a case. The only remaining count in the Complaint is Sasson‘s use of the iconic September 11 photograph of Firefighters raising the U.S. flag at the World Trade Center.
Thus, North Jersey Media is fully aware that if it does not possess a Certificate of Copyright Registration issued by the United States Copyright Office on the date images are posted on a blog, it cannot maintain a cause of action for copyright infringement.
- On April 22, 2012, Real Housewives of New Jersey hosts various events;
- On April 23, 2012, blog posts images;
- On or about June 30, 2012, Big Bad Media acquires rights to photographs from various photographers;
- On or about July 20, 2012, Big Bad Media applies for copyright registration certificates;
- On December 4, 2012, Big Bad Media is issued Certificates for some, but not all images (while others remain pending).
In the above hypothetical situation, Big Bad Media Group cannot maintain a prima facie case of copyright infringement for postings until AFTER December 4, 2012 for those images in which certificates have been registered. In fact, in the above hypothetical Big Bad Media didn’t even own the rights to the photographs until June 30, 2012.
Therefore, any blog who posted the images before December 4, 2012 has not violated copyright laws pursuant to the Decision of the Court in North Jersey Media Group vs. Sasson.