RollingOut.com, a gossip blog and a subsidiary of Steed publishing (which is reportedly the nation’s largest chain of African-American newspapers), has been slapped with a lawsuit by celebrity photo agency, Mavrix Photographs. Miami/Los Angeles-based Mavrix Photos filed a copyright infringement suit late last week in California's Central District Court, alleging that Steed published Mavrix's photographs of Beyonce and Kim Kardashian on RollingOut.com without the authorization to do so and "have driven significant traffic to RollingOut.com in large part due to the presence of the sought-after images." Mavrix, which is no stranger to legal proceedings, is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages.
In case you missed it, Mavrix filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in 2008 against Brand Technologies in California's Central District Court, the same court as the one noted above. Much like the case at issue now, Mavrix alleged that Brand had put its exclusive photos (this time ones of singer Fergie and her husband in the Bahamas) on its website (www.celebrity-gossip.net), without Mavrix's permission. Mavrix had federally registered the copyrights for the photos at issue, an important fact, as while copyrightable works need not be registered in order to be subject to copyright protection, registration is a prerequisite to filing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Brand, an Ohio-based corporation, moved to dismiss the action on numerous grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction, and the district court granted Brand's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The case was eventually heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011, which set out the tests for establishing both general and specific jurisdiction (the burden of which obviously falls on the plaintiff - Mavrix, in this case), and ultimately held that it did not have general jurisdiction but that the defendant's alleged copyright infringement was expressly aimed at California enough to find specific jurisdiction. The court also held that Brand's alleged copyright infringement caused harm that it recognized was likely to be suffered in California enough to find specific jurisdiction.
Mavrix has filed its latest lawsuit (the one against Steed) in the same California federal court, and so, the ruling may not be terribly surprising. More to come ...