I know, you’re likely already sick of me nagging about registering your copyrights as early as possible, but until y’all stop sitting on your hands, I’m going to keep at it.Today’s juicy reason is that sometimes a new infringement isn’t new.
The Hollywood Reporter in this article talks about a recent ruling in a copyright case involvingan artist who created some famous tattoos. The artist who created art on LeBron James did not register the copyright when he created the works and when theywere infringed by a video game company (who has Mr. James in its game), twice, it was too late to get statutory damages. So the artist registered later and when the video game company released a new version of the game, the artist tried to say it was a new infringement so that he could get statutory damages and potentially attorneys’ fees. The court, however, said the new release was the same infringement as the old ones because the use was essentially identical. If aninfringement starts before registration, the bright-line rule is you can’t get statutory damages (or attorneys’ fees), so the artist can’t get statutory damages here.
In short, his $1.2million case is now likely worth, at best, a few thousand (and he’s going to have to prove up that value).
(note, the photo above is not of the tattoo in question; it isn’t even a real tattoo)