On behalf of the estate of a California photographer, a California law firm known for aggressive enforcement of copyright claims sent demand letters to the operator of a popular image-sharing site using the incorporated name MLTSHP. The letters complained that a user of the site had posted a copyrighted photograph without the payment of a license fee and demanded $2,500 in statutory damages.
In February 2020, after receiving repeated threats of litigation, MLTSHP sued the photographer’s estate in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. MLTSHP seeks a declaration of non-infringement on the ground that the host of an online discussion site is not liable for infringements by discussion site users where the host neither engaged in any volitional act that caused the infringement nor derived a direct financial benefit from the infringement.
In response to the lawsuit, the copyright owner promptly issued a broad irrevocable license, protecting MLTSHP against any claims based on the posting of any of Leigh Wiener’s photographs to its site; the case was dismissed as a result.