Cropped Image Leads to Infringement Suit

By: 
Casey Wareham

John Durant (“Durant”), a highly acclaimed professional photographer, brought suit against Laureate Education Inc. (“Laureate”) for copyright infringement. Durant alleges in his complaint that Laureate improperly used one of his photographs on its recruiting website.

Durant claims to be an accomplished photographer whose photos have been used by the world’s largest news outlets. He claims that his photography is used by businesses worldwide and that his images typically license for $5,000 to $15,000 annually. Durant alleges himself to be the sole owner and exclusive rights holder of a photograph of the Hotel Indigo in San Diego. In December 2017, Durant discovered a slightly cropped version of his photo on a website operated by Laureate for the purpose of recruiting potential students. A comparison of Durant’s original image and the cropped infringing image are found under paragraph 21 on page 4 of the complaint.

Upon reaching out to Laureate’s counsel, Durant alleges Laureate refused to acknowledge the infringing image was in fact Durant’s, and refused to resolve the matter. Durant claims that Laureate knew that it did not have permission to use Durant’s image and willfully infringed. Durant alleges he is entitled to actual damages pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §504(b), or statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §504(c), reserving the right to elect whichever is larger.

On July 25, 2019, Durant voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice