Alleged Infringement Makes for a Less than "Funky Friday"

By: 
Casey Wareham

On April 30, 2019, professional photographer Linda Matlow filed suit against the University of Pennsylvania, alleging copyright infringement. Matlow claims her photograph of musician James Brown (the "Photo") was improperly used by a University-owned and/or operated radio station, WXPN-FM. 

The complaint states that on June 23, 2017, WXPN-FM obtained the Photo from an unknown source and published it in a tweet in order to promote its radio program, "Funky Friday." According to Matlow, WXPN-FM has 34,000 Twitter followers, and she suggests the Photo was reproduced as many as 34,000 times. Matlow characterizes the tweet as "promotional . . . advertising . . . intended to increase viewer interest." The tweet was later re-tweeted by radio host David Dye, who is not party to the suit.

The complaint states that WXPN-FM grossed approximately $9 million in revenue in 2015. Matlow holds a registration in the Photo, and is the sole proprietor of its associated rights. Matlow is seeking, among other things, a "disgorgement of Defendants' profits attributable to infringement" of the Photo, and an injunction.