Martinelli v. Hearst Newspapers

Docket Number: 22-20333
Judge: Stephen A. Higginson
Opinion Date: April 13, 2023

Sotheby’s International Realty commissioned Plaintiff to photograph Lugalla, an Irish estate owned by the Guinness family. Plaintiff took seven photographs of the property, and Lugalla was subsequently listed for sale. On March 7, 2017, Hearst Newspapers used Plaintiff’s photographs in a web-only article, which Hearst Newspapers published on websites associated with the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Times Union, the Greenwich Time, and The Middletown Press. Plaintiff sued Hearst Newspapers for copyright infringement. On February 11, 2022, Plaintiff amended his complaint to bring a copyright infringement claim against Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. and to allege that his photographs were also used on websites associated with various media sources. Plaintiff brought these claims within three years of discovering the infringements but more than three years after the infringements occurred. The district court followed Graper, granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, and denied Hearst’s motion.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court first explained that Graper is the only precedent binding upon the court to apply the discovery rule with respect to the Section 507(b) limitations period for copyright infringement claims. Further, the court wrote that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Petrella and Rotkiske did not unequivocally overrule Graper. And under Graper, Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claims were timely because he brought them within three years of discovering Hearst’s infringements. View “Martinelli v. Hearst Newspapers” on Justia Law

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