Thursday, September 19, 2013

Copyright Law - Fourth Circuit - Throwing The Book At A Tattoo Parlor?

Registering Compilation Copyrights, Copyrights in Tattoos, Breach of License Agreement, Copyright Infringement, Damages, Statutory Damages, Statutory Damages for Compilation Copyrights, Actual Damages

Tattoo Art Incorporated v. TAT International LLC, 2012 WL 6098085 (4th Cir. 2012)

Ancient Art Tattoo Studio by J.D. Crowe
 Tattoo artist created images for tattoo stencils and inspirations for tattoo designs and licensed them to tattoo parlor.  Images were compiled in 24 books of 50 sheets, each of which contained several images.  License covered a number of years with royalty payments and minimum guarantee.  Parlor breached by failing to pay and account for royalties.  Following termination of license agreement, parlor recolored the images and continued to use, sell and reproduce the images.  The Fourth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s award of damages for breach of contract and failure to pay royalties of $18,000.  In addition, the trial court found each of the 24 books to be a “compilation copyright” because only one copyright registration was filed for each book.  Accordingly, for the period following the termination of the license agreement, the Court affirmed the trial court’s allowance 24 awards statutory damages per registered compilation for a total additional award of $480,000.  The Court rejected appellant’s argument that the Copyright Act required an election of remedies between actual and statutory damages where actual damages occurred during the license period and statutory damages covered only post-termination infringements.

To read Judges Traxler, Wilkinson, and Agee's decision, click here.
 Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. All practice, no theory.Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2012-2013) by Raymond J. Dowd
 Copyright Litigation Handbook on Westlaw

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