Photographer Files Copyright Infringement Case Against Facebook

Plaintiff Christopher Boffoli filed a complaint against Facebook for copyright infringement. The complaint was filed in the Washington Western District Court. The plaintiff is represented by Newman & Du Wors Law.

Boffoli, a professional photographer, created “‘Big Appetites,’ a series of photographs featuring tiny figures photographed against real food backdrops.” According to the complaint, the photographs are copyrightable and have been registered with the United States Copyright Office. They have also been featured in the publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and CBS This Morning. His work has been featured galleries in the United States and internationally, he has been hired and commissioned by companies for his work and his images have been licensed. Boffoli’s business and income are based on the work he licenses and sells.

Boffoli alleged that “Facebook’s customer posts photographs from Big Appetites without license or permission from Boffoli on webpages housed on Facebook’s platform.” Facebook allegedly did not prevent users from posting the copyrighted material on its platform and it failed to prevent the content “from being accessible over the Internet despite notice from Boffoli.” Facebook did not remove this infringing content or prevent users from posting this type of content, despite allegedly having the power to do so.  

Boffoli noted that he did not give permission for his work to be posted on Facebook. Boffoli quickly submitted Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests to Facebook about the infringing posts. Facebook stated that it removed the content in question, however more than 100 days after receiving his notice, Facebook failed to remove or disable access to infringing copies of his work. A few weeks later, Facebook removed or disabled access to the content after being contacted by his attorney. “Facebook admitted it failed to previously remove the material despite notice and stated that its failure to do so was due to a technical error.” Facebook did not immediately remove the infringing content despite knowledge of the infringement from Boffoli’s notice; as a result, the Plaintiff argues that Facebook was breached DMCA. Boffoli has also accused Facebook of copyright infringement itself, and contributory copyright infringement.

Boffoli states that “[w]ithout [his] permission or consent…photographs from Big Appetites were reproduced, derivative works were made from, copies were distributed of, and the photographs were displayed on Facebook’s platform.” As a result, his “exclusive rights in the photographs in Big Appetites were violated.”

Boffoli has sought a temporary and permanent injunction, an order for the copies controlled by Facebook to be destroyed, an award for damages, among other forms of relief.