Nosi Ralephata Prevails on Motion to Dismiss in U. S. District Court
Nosi Ralephata prevails on a motion to dismiss in a case in U. S. District Court. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that the display and use of her photographs as part of the promotional material for an exhibit that was displayed at museums in South Carolina constituted an invasion of privacy and misappropriation of her likeness for commercial gain. The photographs were taken more than thirty years ago and were included in a book that had approximately 115 photographs, and only two images were Plaintiff’s. An anniversary edition of the book was published in 2007 and had been in circulation in major public libraries and academic institutions for at least two years prior to the institution of the litigation. Both the photographs and the book were subject to registered copyright protection. Nosi took the position that Plaintiff had failed to state a cause of action for misappropriation of likeness because her client’s role was limited to arranging the loan of the exhibit, and therefore, could not be liable for misappropriation of likeness as a matter of law. Nosi also argued that pursuant to the Copyright Act, third parties had a right to rely on the copyright as demonstrative of the owner’s proper ownership of the photographs and the owner’s right to reproduce, display, and distribute that work. The judge agreed, finding the copyright argument particularly compelling. The judge held that the Defendant had a right to rely on the copyright and did not have an independent duty to investigate the validity of the copyright.