The US Supreme Court Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by a professional photographer who sued a hospitality tech company for removing copyright metadata from his photos in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case on summary judgment. The court ruled that the DMCA requires evidence linking the defendant’s removal of copyright management information (CMI) with specific instances of infringement. Photographer Victor Elias argued that there is no requirement that he demonstrate specific connections between the defendant’s CMI removal and particular instances of infringement. Elias claimed that the court’s decision will “effectively wipe out legal protections for the integrity of CMI metadata.”
The DMCA makes it unlawful and imposes liability for providing or distributing false CMI with the intent to induce or conceal infringement. CMI is information about a copyrighted work, its creator, its owner or use of the work that is conveyed in connection with the work. Elias sued Shiji Group for distributing his photos and stripping out the embedded CMI metadata from the images before using them on travel websites.