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University Sued for Online Activities of Alumni Association

Photographer sues University for posts made by the University's Alumni Association

On November 8, 2019, Jim Olive and Photolive, Inc. (jointly “Olive”) filed a complaint in the Southern District of Texas against Southwestern University (“Southwestern”). Olive alleges that Southwestern violated Olive's intellectual property rights by displaying image SKDT1082 (the “Image”) on Southwestern's website and various social media pages.

According to the complaint, Southwestern used the Image multiple times in 2018 and 2019 “as part of an effort to encourage its alumni to participate in events and activities sponsored by local alumni chapters in twelve different cities, including Houston.” Olive also alleges that Southwestern used the Image to "promote events on the Facebook page for the Houston Chapter of the Southwestern University Alumni Association."

Olive claims that before appropriating the Image for its own use, Southwestern did not contact Olive and offer to pay a licensing fee. In addition, Olive states that Southwestern not only ignored the copyright management information that accompanied the Image, but failed to include such information when it posted the Image on its website and Facebook pages. Olive asserts these omissions violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Upon realizing that Southwestern was utilizing the Image without permission, Olive wrote to Southwestern, demanding that Southwestern cease using the Image and compensate Olive for its infringement of Olive's copyright. Although Southwestern ceased using the Image, Olive claims Southwestern wholly ignored the demand for compensation for its infringement of Olive's copyright.

Olive seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial and attorneys’ fees.