Artist Sues Amazon for Failing to Comply With DMCA Takedowns

On Monday in the Western District of Washington, artist Douglas Cavanaugh filed a complaint against Amazon and unknown individuals alleging that the defendants have infringed his copyrighted work and list products for sale on Amazon bearing infringing copies of his work, which Amazon has only partially taken down, despite the plaintiff’s request.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff’s “unique artwork incorporates various Celtic and Nordic themes, including unique depiction of mythological creatures.” The plaintiff asserted that he relies on licensing his work and selling merchandise with his designs to make a living. However, the plaintiff averred that his “artwork has been misappropriated and incorporated into unauthorized apparel and personal accessory items being sold on Inc.’s (‘Amazon’) website and marketplace.” Cavanaugh noted that on Oct. 24, he issued and Amazon confirmed receipt of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice, which informed Amazon about 51 Amazon listings that offered infringing products and requested that all be removed. The plaintiff claimed that his copyrights continue to be infringed on Amazon’s website because 24 out of the 51 listings are still active on Amazon. The plaintiff accused Amazon of cherry-picking which listings to remove. The plaintiff concluded that Amazon has failed to comply with the DMCA, which has caused further infringement and allegedly harmed the plaintiff. The plaintiff proffered that Amazon cannot claim DMCA Safe Harbor protections because of its failure to respond to the DMCA notice expeditiously.

The unknown defendants, the complaiont says, 10 are thought to be manufacturers, distributors retailers and/or vendors of the infringing apparel and products purportedly bearing “unlawful reproductions of Plaintiff’s illustration titled ‘Fenrir: The Monster Wolf of Norse Mythology’ (the ‘Subject Work’) without Plaintiff’s consent, or have contributed to said infringement.”

According to the plaintiff, he previously posted the Subject Work onto his website, where he offered T-shirts and other goods bearing his work, in addition to some third-party websites, such as Redbubble and Teepublic. The plaintiff averred that the defendants “created, sold, manufactured, caused to be created, manufactured, imported and/or distributed apparel and other products bearing designs which are identical to the Subject Work” without his consent or authorization. Furthermore, Cavanaugh claimed that “the elements, composition, colors, arrangement, layout, and appearance of the designs at issue are substantially similar and/or identical. Consequently, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants have infringed his copyrighted work “with actual or constructive knowledge of Plaintiff’s rights, and/or in blatant disregard of Plaintiff’s rights,” therefore, the plaintiff contended that this conduct was “willful, intentional, and malicious.”

The claims for relief are copyright infringement as well as vicarious and/or contributory copyright infringement. The plaintiff has sought declaratory judgment, to enjoin the defendants from further infringement, to impound all unauthorized material infringing the work and for these materials to be destroyed, an award for the defendants’ profits and the plaintiff’s losses, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, and other relief.

The plaintiff is represented by The Jacob Freeman Law Firm, PLLC.