Philpot v. Independent Journal Review

Judge: Wynn
Opinion Date: February 6, 2024

In this case, professional concert photographer Larry Philpot brought a copyright-infringement claim against news website Independent Journal Review (IJR) after IJR used his photograph of musician Ted Nugent in an online article. IJR sought summary judgment, arguing that its use of the photo constituted fair use under the Copyright Act and alternatively arguing that Philpot’s copyright registration was invalid. Philpot also sought summary judgment, contending that his registration was valid and that IJR’s use was not fair use. The district court granted summary judgment to IJR on fair use grounds and denied Philpot’s motion.

On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the decision. The court held that IJR’s use of the photograph did not constitute fair use because it was non-transformative and commercial, and it adversely affected the potential market for the photograph. It also found that Philpot’s copyright registration was valid because the photograph was not published before Philpot registered it as an unpublished work. The court concluded that IJR was not entitled to summary judgment on its fair use defense and that Philpot was entitled to summary judgment on the validity of the copyright registration. View “Philpot v. Independent Journal Review” on Justia Law

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