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Has This Man Sued You? A "Copyright Troll" Takes on Hollywood

April 10, 2018Media Mention
The Hollywood Reporter

The explosion of social media and the resulting ease of sharing photographs online have created a host of novel legal questions. For Richard Liebowitz, a photographer turned New York attorney, it's been a business opportunity.

Liebowitz, 29, won't say how many lawsuits he's brought against media firms, but searches of federal court records show hundreds of filings. "It's a major problem in the digital age," he says. "It's so easy to take without permission."

But intellectual property experts have criticized this kind of niche practice — especially the breakneck rate at which he files complaints. "In one sense, it feels like a nuisance," says L.A.-based IP lawyer Jesse Saivar. “But, in the other sense, the attorneys that bring these cases would argue they’re doing a greater good and are enforcing the laws that are there for a reason.”

In one of more than three dozen cases filed on behalf of photographer Steve Sands, Liebowitz sued Meredith Corp. over its alleged unauthorized use of a photograph of Benedict Cumberbatch as his Marvel character Dr. Strange in a Hello Gigglesweb story. He's seeking $150,000 in damages, the maximum allowed under the law for willful infringement of a copyrighted work.

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