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Seattle's Shugart Wins Copyright Case


A U.S. District Court has ruled in favor of Seattle-based photographer Lloyd Shugart in a case brought against him by shoe company Propet USA. According to Shugart's attorney, Philip Mann, the case could be the first ruling under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to favor a photographer.

Shugart had photographed products and images for Propet from 1999 through 2005, when he claimed the company used the images outside the scope of their intended purpose and removed copyright management information from the photos. When warned by Shugart, Propet filed suit to declare judgment that it had rights to the images and to prohibit Shugart from selling them.

In September 2007, the jury ruled against Propet and ordered the company to pay Shugart $1.32 million, including $12,800 in actual damages and $500,000 for removal of copyright information under the DMCA.

Mann said that most previous cases citing this act have failed because they could not prove that the copyright information had been removed.