Prepared Food Photos Files Another Copyright Lawsuit

Food photography company Prepared Food Photos, Inc., formerly known as Adlife Marketing & Communications, filed another photograph copyright lawsuit on Wednesday in the Southern District of Florida, this time against Valley Meats LLC

According to the complaint, plaintiff Prepared Food Photos licenses “high-end, professional photographs for the food industry.” The plaintiff reportedly offers a monthly subscription service, which gives subscribers access to and the option to license thousands of professional images.

Prepared Food Photos claimed that it “does not license individual photographs or otherwise make individual photographs available for purchase,” instead relying on its monthly subscription service. The plaintiff asserted that it owns all of the photographs on its website that are available to license. As a result, Prepared Food Photos stated that it “serves as the licensing agent with respect to licensing such photographs for limited use by Plaintiff’s customers” and its “standard terms include limited, non-transferable license for use of any photography by the customer only.” Therefore, according to the plaintiff, its licensing terms clearly note that the copyright ownership stays with Prepared Food Photos and its customers are “not permitted to transfer, assign, or sub-license any of Plaintiff’s photographs to another person/entity.”

At issue in this litigation is a photograph, titled “BeefSirloinStripSteak008.jpg” (the Work), which was taken in 2007 by a professional photographer, as shown below.

The Work was registered by Prepared Food Photographs pursuant to an agreement with the photographer to receive a copyright and given a copyright in 2016 and the plaintiff has remained the owner of the Work since.

Defendant Valley Meats owns and operates a meat processing and sales business and primarily advertises and markets its business through its website. Allegedly, before the Work’s copyright registration date, Valley Meats published the Work on its website, as shown below.

However, Prepared Food Photos claimed that Valley Meats “is not and has never been licensed to use or display the Work” nor did the defendant seek permission from the plaintiff to use the work. The plaintiff noted that since the work was professional stock photography, the defendant should have known and been on notice that the Work was not meant for public use, but the defendant used the Work for commercial use without the right authorization to do so. Prepared Food Photos proffered that Valley Meats found the Work online and copied it for its own use.

Prepared Food Photos noted that it first discovered this unauthorized use of the Work in May 2019 and allegedly to date, the plaintiff “has been unable to negotiate a reasonable license for the past infringement of its Work.”

Consequently, Prepared Food Photos alleged that Valley Meats has infringed its copyright for the Work, which is an original photograph subject to copyright protection. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant willfully and knowingly infringed upon its copyright. Prepared Food Photos asserted that it has been harmed by the defendant’s conduct.

The plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment in its favor, an award for damages and disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest and to permanently enjoin the defendant from further infringement, among other things.

Prepared Food Photos is represented by CopyCat Legal PLLC.

Prior to this most recent filing, Prepared Food Photos filed another copyright photo lawsuit against a food delivery company for allegedly using one of its images of sea bass. According to Docket Alarm data, since January 2020, Prepared Food Photos has filed 16 copyright infringement lawsuits with most occurring from September to December 2021. It has mostly been represented by DeSouza Law and Advisorlaw. However, it appears that attorneys from both firms are now part of CopyCat Legal, which seems to be representing the plaintiff in a fair number of these lawsuits.